There have been two clear examples of diseases identified as resulting from mutations in aquaporins:
- Mutations in the aquaporin-2 gene cause hereditary nephrogenic diabetes insipidus in humans.
- Mice homozygous for inactivating mutations in the aquaporin-0 gene develop congenital cataracts.
A small number of people have been identified with severe or total deficiency in aquaporin-1. Interestingly, they are generally healthy, but exhibit a defect in the ability to concentrate solutes in the urine and to conserve water when deprived of drinking water. Mice with targeted deletions in aquaporin-1 also exhibit a deficiency in water conservation due to an inability to concentrate solutes in the kidney medulla by countercurrent multiplication.
In addition to its role in genetically determined nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, aquaporins also play a key role in acquired forms of nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (disorders that cause increased urine production). Acquired nephrogenic diabetes insipidus can result from impaired regulation of aquaporin-2 due to administration of lithium salts (as a treatment for bipolar disorder), low potassium concentrations in the blood (hypokalemia), high calcium concentrations in the blood (hypercalcemia), or a chronically high intake of water beyond the normal requirements (e.g. due to excessive habitual intake of bottled water or coffee).
Finally, it has been found that autoimmune reactions against aquaporin 4 produce Devic's disease