Urea: New questions about an ancient solute

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Urea recycling and counter-current exchange within the renal tubular, vascular and interstitial compartments help maintain high levels of this solute in the renal medulla, that are crucial for the production of concentrated urine. The role of urea in physiological and pathological conditions is still unclear, although new information is becoming available. Several urea transporters have been identified that mediate facilitated transport of urea across biological membranes in the mammalian kidney, in amphibians, and in elasmobranchs. Evidence that urea transporters may be expressed in other mammalian organs is also beginning to emerge. The mechanisms involved in the regulation of urea transport are incompletely understood. In this respect, the structural and functional characterization of individual transporters is providing the basis to identify specific regulatory factors. Urea can be viewed as a perturbing osmolyte in the renal inner medulla, and the mechanisms of adaptation of renal cells to high concentration of this destabilizing solute are being investigated. Urea-specific signaling pathways have been identified, that could contribute to clarify how cells handle urea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nephrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 24 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Kidney
  • Transporter
  • UT-A
  • UT-B
  • Urea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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