The Significance of TRPV4 Channels and Hemichannels in the Lens and Ciliary Epithelium

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16 Scopus citations


To function normally, all cells must maintain ion homeostasis, establish a membrane potential, and regulate water content. These actions require active Na-K transport provided by Na,K-ATPase. The lens, however, is made up almost entirely of fiber cells that have little or no Na,K-ATPase activity. Lens ion and water homeostasis rely on Na,K-ATPase activity in a small number of cells at the periphery of epithelium monolayer. Therefore, the function of the epithelium must be integrated with the needs of the fiber mass. This suggests that a remote control mechanism may adjust Na,K-ATPase activity to match increases or decreases of ion leakage, which may occur a considerable distance away. Here, we review evidence that TRPV4 channels in the epithelium become activated when the lens is subjected to osmotic- or damage-induced swelling. This triggers a chain of events in the lens epithelium that opens connexin hemichannels, allowing ATP release that stimulates purinergic receptors, activates Src family tyrosine kinases, and increases Na,K-ATPase activity. Recent studies also revealed functional connexin hemichannels along with TRPV4 channels in nonpigmented ciliary epithelial (NPE) cells that secrete aqueous humor into the eye. Because TRPV4 channels are mechanosensitive, we speculate they might enable the NPE to respond to stimuli such as mechanical distortion associated with volume homeostasis during fluid transfer across the ciliary epithelium or changes in intraocular pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-508
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Na K-ATPase activity
  • TRPV4
  • ciliary epithelium
  • hemichannels
  • lens epithelium
  • remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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