A mini-review of pharmacological strategies used to ameliorate polyuria associated with X-linked nephrogenic diabetes insipidus

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Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) is characterized by renal resistance to the antidiuretic hormone arginine vasopressin (AVP), which leads to polyuria, plasma hyperosmolarity, polydipsia, and impaired quality of living. Inherited forms are caused by X-linked loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding the vasopressin 2 receptor (V2R) or autosomal recessive/dominant mutations in the gene encoding aquaporin 2 (AQP2). A common acquired form is lithium-induced NDI. AVP facilitates reabsorption of water through increased abundance and insertion of AQP2 in the apical membrane of principal cells in the collecting ducts. In X-linked NDI, V2R is dysfunctional, which leads to impaired water reabsorption. These patients have functional AQP2, and thus the challenge is to achieve AQP2 membrane insertion independently of V2R. The current treatment is symptomatic and is based on distally acting diuretics (thiazide or amiloride) and cyclooxygenase inhibitors (indomethacin). This mini-review covers published data from trials in preclinical in vivo models and a few human intervention studies to improve NDI by more causal approaches. Promising effects on NDI in preclinical studies have been demonstrated by the use of pharmacological approaches with secretin, Wnt5a, protein kinase A agonist, fluconazole, prostaglandin E2 EP2 and EP4 agonists, statins, metformin, and soluble prorenin receptor agonists. In patients, only casuistic reports have evaluated the effect of statins, phosphodiesterase inhibitors (rolipram and sildenafil), and the guanylate cyclase stimulator riociguat without amelioration of symptoms. It is concluded that there is currently no established intervention that causally improves symptoms or quality of life in patients with NDI. There is a need to collaborate to improve study quality and conduct formal trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Renal physiology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)F746-F753
Publication statusPublished - 1. Nov 2020


  • arginine vasopressin receptor 2
  • hypernatremia
  • vasopressin
  • vasopressin 2 receptor
  • water channels


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