Osmoregulation and excretion

Erik Hviid Larsen, Lewis E. Deaton, Horst Onken, Michael O'Donnell, Martin Grosell, William H. Dantzler, Dirk Weihrauch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


The article discusses advances in osmoregulation and excretion with emphasis on how multicellular animals in different osmotic environments regulate their milieu intérieur. Mechanisms of energy transformations in animal osmoregulation are dealt with in biophysical terms with respect to water and ion exchange across biological membranes and coupling of ion and water fluxes across epithelia. The discussion of functions is based on a comparative approach analyzing mechanisms that have evolved in different taxonomic groups at biochemical, cellular and tissue levels and their integration in maintaining whole body water and ion homeostasis. The focus is on recent studies of adaptations and newly discovered mechanisms of acclimatization during transitions of animals between different osmotic environments. Special attention is paid to hypotheses about the diversity of cellular organization of osmoregulatory and excretory organs such as glomerular kidneys, antennal glands, Malpighian tubules and insect gut, gills, integument and intestine, with accounts on experimental approaches and methods applied in the studies. It is demonstrated how knowledge in these areas of comparative physiology has expanded considerably during the last two decades, bridging seminal classical works with studies based on new approaches at all levels of anatomical and functional organization. A number of as yet partially unanswered questions are emphasized, some of which are about how water and solute exchange mechanisms at lower levels are integrated for regulating whole body extracellular water volume and ion homeostasis of animals in their natural habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-573
Number of pages169
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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