Ouabain-induced cytoplasmic vesicles and their role in cell volume maintenance

M. A. Russo, E. Morgante, A. Russo, G. D Van Rossum, M. Tafani

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Cellular swelling is controlled by an active mechanism of cell volume regulation driven by a Na+/K+-dependent ATPase and by aquaporins which translocate water along the osmotic gradient. Na+/K+-pump may be blocked by ouabain, a digitalic derivative, by inhibition of ATP, or by drastic ion alterations of extracellular fluid. However, it has been observed that some tissues are still able to control their volume despite the presence of ouabain, suggesting the existence of other mechanisms of cell volume control. In 1977, by correlating electron microscopy observation with ion and water composition of liver slices incubated in different metabolic conditions in the presence or absence of ouabain, we observed that hepatocytes were able to control their volume extruding water and recovering ion composition in the presence of ouabain. In particular, hepatocytes were able to sequester ions and water in intracellular vesicles and then secrete them at the bile canaliculus pole. We named this "vesicular mechanism of cell volume control." Afterward, this mechanism has been confirmed by us and other laboratories in several mammalian tissues. This review summarizes evidences regarding this mechanism, problems that are still pending, and questions that need to be answered. Finally, we shortly review the importance of cell volume control in some human pathological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number487256
JournalBioMed Research International
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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