Journal of Molecular Histology

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 229–241 | Cite as

Expression of aquaporin-4 water channels in the digestive tract of the guinea pig

  • Ling Jiang
  • Jian Li
  • Xiaofeng Liu
  • Geoffrey Burnstock
  • Zhenghua Xiang
Original Paper


Expression of the aquaporin-4 (AQP4) water channel was systematically studied in the digestive tract of the guinea pig using Western blot and immunofluorescence techniques. The results showed that AQP4 was expressed widely in different segments of the guinea pig digestive tract. AQP4-immunoreactivity was confined to parietal cells in the stomach, and absorptive and glandular epithelial cells of small and large intestine. AQP4 protein was also expressed by enteric glial cells of submucosal and myenteric ganglia and primary nerve trunks. AQP4 was expressed by both type I and type II enteric gliocytes, but not by type III or type IV enteric gliocytes, indicating that enteric gliocytes have a heterogeneous distribution in the gut wall. In addition, different patterns of AQP4 expression in the enteric nervous system of human, guinea pig, rat and mouse colon mucosa were identified: in rat and mouse AQP4 was localised to a small subpopulation of neurons; in the guinea pig AQP4 was localised to enteric glial cells; and in the human colon mucosa, AQP4 was also detected mainly in the glial cells. It has been speculated that AQP4 may be involved in water transport in the gastrointestinal tract. Its role in enteric neurons and glia is unknown, but, by analogy with the brain, AQP4 may be involved in the formation and resolution of edema.


Aquaporin-4 Enteric glia Digestive tract Guinea pig Mouse Rat Human 



The authors thank Dr. Gillian E. Knight for her excellent editorial assistance. This work was supported by 973 Program (2011CB504401 to Z. Xiang) and the National Natural Science Foundation of PR China (30970918 to Z. Xiang).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ling Jiang
    • 1
  • Jian Li
    • 3
  • Xiaofeng Liu
    • 2
  • Geoffrey Burnstock
    • 4
    • 5
  • Zhenghua Xiang
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Optical Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of Shanghai for Science and TechnologyShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Neurobiology, Key Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Ministry of Education, Neuroscience Research Centre of Changzheng HospitalSecond Military Medical UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Anesthesiology, Neuroscience Research Centre, Changzheng HospitalSecond Military Medical UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Autonomic Neuroscience CentreUniversity College Medical SchoolLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of PharmacologyThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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