The renal collecting duct fine-tunes urinary composition, and thereby, coordinates key physiological processes, such as volume/blood pressure regulation, electrolyte-free water reabsorption, and acid-base homeostasis. The collecting duct epithelium is comprised of a tight epithelial barrier resulting in a strict separation of intraluminal urine and the interstitium. Tight junctions are key players in enforcing this barrier and in regulating paracellular transport of solutes across the epithelium. The features of tight junctions across different epithelia are strongly determined by their molecular composition. Claudins are particularly important structural components of tight junctions because they confer barrier and transport properties. In the collecting duct, a specific set of claudins (Cldn-3, Cldn-4, Cldn-7, Cldn-8) is expressed, and each of these claudins has been implicated in mediating aspects of the specific properties of its tight junction. The functional disruption of individual claudins or of the overall barrier function results in defects of blood pressure and water homeostasis. In this concise review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge on the role of the collecting duct epithelial barrier and of claudins in collecting duct function and pathophysiology.
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