Defective glycerol metabolism in aquaporin 9 (AQP9) knockout mice

Aleksandra M. Rojek, Mariusz T. Skowronski, Ernst Martin Füchtbauer, Annette C. Füchtbauer, Robert A. Fenton, Peter Agre, Jørgen Frøkiær, Søren Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aquaporin-9 (AQP9) is an aquaglyceroporin membrane channel shown biophysically to conduct water, glycerol, and other small solutes. Because the physiological role/s of AQP9 remain undefined and the expression sites of AQP9 remain incomplete and conflicting, we generated AQP9 knockout mice. In the absence of physiological stress, knockout mice did not display any visible behavioral or severe physical abnormalities. Immunohistochemical analyses using multiple antibodies revealed AQP9 specific labeling in hepatocytes, epididymis, vas deferens, and in epidermis of wild type mice, but a complete absence of labeling in AQP9-/- mice. In brain, no detectable labeling was observed. Compared with control mice, plasma levels of glycerol and triglycerides were markedly increased in AQP9-/- mice, whereas glucose, urea, free fatty acids, alkaline phosphatase, and cholesterol were not significantly different. Oral administration of glycerol to fasted mice resulted in an acute rise in blood glucose levels in both AQP9-/- and AQP9+/- mice, revealing no defect in utilization of exogenous glycerol as a gluconeogenic substrate and indicating a high gluconeogenic capacity in nonhepatic organs. Obese Leprdb/Leprdb AQP9-/- and obese Leprdb/Leprdb AQP9 +/- mice showed similar body weight, whereas the glycerol levels in obese Leprdb/Leprdb AQP9-/- mice were dramatically increased. Consistent with a role of AQP9 in hepatic uptake of glycerol, blood glucose levels were significantly reduced in Lepr db/Leprdb AQP9-/- mice compared with Lepr db/Leprdb AQP9+/- in response to 3 h of fasting. Thus, AQP9 is important for hepatic glycerol metabolism and may play a role in glycerol and glucose metabolism in diabetes mellitus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3609-3614
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 27 2007



  • Aquaglyceroporin
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Leptin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Rojek, A. M., Skowronski, M. T., Füchtbauer, E. M., Füchtbauer, A. C., Fenton, R. A., Agre, P., Frøkiær, J., & Nielsen, S. (2007). Defective glycerol metabolism in aquaporin 9 (AQP9) knockout mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(9), 3609-3614.