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The aquaporins (AQPs) are a family of small integral membrane proteins that facilitate the bidirectional transport of water across biological membranes in response to osmotic pressure gradients as well as enable the transmembrane diffusion of small neutral solutes (such as urea, glycerol, and hydrogen peroxide) and ions. AQPs are expressed throughout the human body. Here, we review their key roles in fluid homeostasis, glandular secretions, signal transduction and sensation, barrier function, immunity and inflammation, cell migration, and angiogenesis. Evidence from a wide variety of studies now supports a view of the functions of AQPs being much more complex than simply mediating the passive flow of water across biological membranes. The discovery and development of small-molecule AQP inhibitors for research use and therapeutic development will lead to new insights into the basic biology of and novel treatments for the wide range of AQP-associated disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Molecular Sciences



Publication Date





1388 - 1388