A very similar substance, lysine vasopressin (LVP) or lypressin, has the same function in pigs and is often used in human therapy.
V2 receptors, G protein-coupled receptors coupled to Gs, on the basolateral membrane of the cells lining the distal convoluted tubules and conducting tubules (in the nephron) have an active site for AVP. The G protein, which is in contact with the V2 receptor inside the cell, move to adenylyl cyclase, triggering adenylyl cyclase to convert ATP into cAMP, plus 2 inorganic phosphates. The cAMP cascade then triggers the insertion of Aquaporin-2 water pores by exocytosis of storage vesicles.
The repressor protein that regulates the gene for protein kinase A (PKA) has a binding site for cAMP, causing the repressor protein to change its shape and leave the operator region of the gene. This allows for transcription of the gene for PKA. PKA then signals ATP to dephosphorylate, providing energy for vesicles (which contain aquaporin channel proteins in their membranes) to fuse with the apical membrane of the cell. Calcium ions may also be required in this process, therefore it may be possible that, PLC (phospholipase C- beta) has an associated role. It should be noted that PLC can be activated by a G-protein coupled receptor.
AVP also increases permeability of the papillary portion of the collecting duct to urea, allowing increased reabsorption of urea into the medullary interstitium, down the concentration gradient created from the removal of water in the cortical collecting duct.
Another renal role for AVP is that it stimulates sodium reabsorption in the thick-ascending loop of Henle.
In recent years there has been particular interest in the role of vasopressin in social behavior. It is thought that vasopressin, released into the brain during sexual activity, initiates and sustains patterns of activity that support the pair-bond between the sexual partners; in particular, vasopressin seems to induce the male to become aggressive towards other males. Evidence for this comes from experimental studies in several species, which indicate that the precise distribution of vasopressin and vasopressin receptors in the brain is associated with species-typical patterns of social behavior. In particular, there are consistent differences between monogamous species and promiscuous species in the distribution of vasopressin receptors, and sometimes in the distribution of vasopressin-containing axons, even when closely-related species are compared. Moreover, studies involving either injecting vasopressin agonists into the brain, or blocking the actions of vasopressin, support the hypothesis that vasopressin is involved in aggression towards other males. There is also evidence that differences in the vasopressin receptor gene between individual members of a species might be predictive of differences in social behavior.
The neurons that make vasopressin, in the supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus, are themselves osmoreceptors, but they also receive synaptic input from other osmoreceptors located in regions adjacent to the anterior wall of the third ventricle. These regions include the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis and the subfornical organ.
Many factors influence the secretion of vasopressin:
The vasopressin that is measured in peripheral blood is almost all derived from secretion from the posterior pituitary gland (except in cases of vasopressin-secreting tumours). However there are two other sources of vasopressin with important local effects:
|Type||Second messenger system||Locations||Actions|
|AVPR1A||phosphatidylinositol/calcium||liver, kidney, peripheral vasculature, brain||vasoconstriction, gluconeogenesis, platelet aggregation, and release of factor VIII and von Willebrand factor; social recognition, circadian tau|
|AVPR1B||phosphatidylinositol/calcium||pituitary gland, brain||adrenocorticotropic hormone secretion in response to stress; social interpretation of olfactory cues|
|AVPR2||adenylate cyclase/cAMP||basolateral membrane of the cells lining the collecting ducts of the kidneys (especially the cortical and outer medullary collecting ducts)||insertion of aquaporin-2 (AQP2) channels (water channels). This allows water to be reabsorbed down an osmotic gradient, and so the urine is more concentrated. Release of von Willebrand factor and surface expression of P-selectin through exocytosis of Weibel-Palade bodies from endothelial cells|
The vasopressins are peptides consisting of nine amino acids (nonapeptides). (NB: the value in the table above of 164 amino acids is that obtained before the hormone is activated by cleavage). The amino acid sequence of arginine vasopressin is Cys-Tyr-Phe-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Arg-Gly, with the cysteine residues forming a sulfur bridge. Lysine vasopressin has a lysine in place of the arginine.
The structure of oxytocin is very similar to that of the vasopressins: it is also a nonapeptide with a sulfur bridge and its amino acid sequence differs at only two positions (see table below). The two genes are located on the same chromosome separated by a relatively small distance of less than 15,000 bases in various species. The magnocellular neurons that make vasopressin are adjacent to magnocellular neurons that make oxytocin, and are similar in many respects. The similarity of the two peptides can cause some cross-reactions: oxytocin has a slight antidiuretic function, and high levels of vasopressin can cause uterine contractions.
Here is a table showing the superfamily of vasopressin and oxytocin neuropeptides:
Vertebrate Vasopressin Family Cys-Tyr-Phe-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Arg-Gly-NH2 Argipressin (AVP, ADH) Most mammals Cys-Tyr-Phe-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Lys-Gly-NH2 Lypressin (LVP) Pigs, hippos, warthogs, some marsupials Cys-Phe-Phe-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Arg-Gly-NH2 Phenypressin Some marsupials Cys-Tyr-Ile-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Arg-Gly-NH2 Vasotocin† Non-mammals Vertebrate Oxytocin Family Cys-Tyr-Ile-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Leu-Gly-NH2 Oxytocin (OXT) Most mammals, ratfish Cys-Tyr-Ile-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Ile-Gly-NH2 Mesotocin Most marsupials, all birds, reptiles, amphibians, lungfishes, coelacanths Cys-Tyr-Ile-Gln-Ser-Cys-Pro-Ile-Gly-NH2 Seritocin Frogs Cys-Tyr-Ile-Ser-Asn-Cys-Pro-Ile-Gly-NH2 Isotocin Bony fishes Cys-Tyr-Ile-Ser-Asn-Cys-Pro-Gln-Gly-NH2 Glumitocin Skates Cys-Tyr-Ile-Asn/Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Leu/Val-Gly-NH2 Various tocins Sharks Invertebrate VP/OT Superfamily Cys-Leu-Ile-Thr-Asn-Cys-Pro-Arg-Gly-NH2 Diuretic Hormone Locust Cys-Phe-Val-Arg-Asn-Cys-Pro-Thr-Gly-NH2 Annetocin Earthworm Cys-Phe-Ile-Arg-Asn-Cys-Pro-Lys-Gly-NH2 Lys-Connopressin Geography & imperial cone snail, pond snail, sea hare, leech Cys-Ile-Ile-Arg-Asn-Cys-Pro-Arg-Gly-NH2 Arg-Connopressin Striped cone snail Cys-Tyr-Phe-Arg-Asn-Cys-Pro-Ile-Gly-NH2 Cephalotocin Octopus Cys-Phe-Trp-Thr-Ser-Cys-Pro-Ile-Gly-NH2 Octopressin Octopus †Vasotocin is the evolutionary progenitor of all the vertebrate neurohypophysial hormones. Vasotocin is only found in hagfish & lampreys.
High levels of vasopressin secretion (syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone, SIADH) and resultant hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) occurs in brain diseases and conditions of the lungs (Small cell lung carcinoma). In the perioperative period, the effects of surgical stress and some commonly used medications (e.g., opiates, syntocinon, anti-emetics) lead to a similar state of excess vasopressin secretion. This may cause mild hyponatremia for several days.
Vasopressin infusion has been used as a second line of management in septic shock patients not responding to high dose of inotropes (e.g., dopamine or norepinephrine). It had been shown to be more effective than epinephrine in asystolic cardiac arrest. While not all studies are in agreement, a 2006 study of out-of hospital cardiac arrests has added to the evidence for the superiority of vasopressin in this situation, but these studies relied on sub-group analysis and better designed prospective studies show no benefit in ACLS.