Role of aquaporins in hydrocephalus: what do we know and where do we stand? A systematic review

Camilla de Laurentis, Paola Cristaldi, Andrea Arighi, Clarissa Cavandoli, Andrea Trezza, Erik P. Sganzerla, Carlo G. Giussani, Andrea Di Cristofori

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Glymphatic fluid circulation may be considered the lymphatic system of the brain and the main role of such system seems to be played by aquaporins (AQPs), a family of proteins which regulates water exchange, in particular AQP4 and 1. Alterations of glymphatic fluid circulation through AQPs variations are now emerging as central elements in the pathophysiology of different brain conditions, like hydrocephalus. This systematic review provides an insight about the role of AQPs in hydrocephalus establishment and compensation, investigating their possible role as diagnostic tools or therapeutic targets. Methods: PubMed database was screened searching for the relevant existing literature in English language published until February 29th 2020, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement. Results: A total of 40 articles met the inclusion criteria for our systematic analysis. AQP4 resulted the most studied water channel, followed by AQP1. The changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), brain parenchyma and choroid plexus (CP) in different hydrocephalus type were analyzed. Moreover, important pharmacological interactions regarding AQP and molecules or conditions were discussed. A very interesting result is the general consensus on increase of AQP4 in hydrocephalic patients, unless in patients suffering from idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus, where AQP4 shows a tendency in reduction. Conclusion: AQP seem to play a central role in the pathophysiology of hydrocephalus and in its compensation mechanisms. Further studies are required to definitively establish their precise roles and their quantitative changes to allow their utilization as diagnostic tools or therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4078-4094
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aquaporin
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Glymphatic system
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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