Issue: 2007 > October > review

Water in health and disease: new aspects of disturbances in water metabolism

H.P.E. Peters, J.H. Robben, P.M.T. Deen, J.F.M. Wetzels


Vasopressin is a critical regulator of water homeostasis. There are two major receptors for vasopressin: V1 and V2 receptors. Disturbances in water balance are commonly encountered in clinical practice and can be divided into disorders of urinary dilution and concentration. The major representatives of such disorders are diabetes insipidus and the syndrome of
inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone (SI ADH).
Recent studies show that genetic forms of nephrogenic
diabetes insipidus are due to mutations in the genes coding for the vasopressin V2 receptor (V2R) or aquaporin-2 (AQP2). Identification of the genes involved and analysis of the cellular fate of the V2R and AQP2 mutants are relevant for understanding the functioning of the V2R and AQP2 protein. These developments also have implications for future therapeutic options. The development of nonpeptide vasopressin receptor antagonists (VRAs) offers prospects for the treatment of
euvolaemic (SI ADH) or hypervolaemic hyponatraemia
(congestive heart failure or cirrhosis). Several nonpeptide VRAs are now in various stages of clinical trials. At present, only conivaptan is registered by the FD A for intravenous treatment of euvolaemic and hypervolaemic hyponatremia. A recent long-term study comparing tolvaptan with placebo in patients with chronic heart failure showed no reduction in risk of death and hospitalisation.