Calcium (Ca(2+)) is a key constituent in a myriad of physiological processes from intracellular signalling to the mineralization of bone. As a consequence, Ca(2+) is maintained within narrow limits when circulating in plasma. This is accomplished via regulated interplay between intestinal absorption, renal tubular reabsorption, and exchange with bone. Many studies have focused on the highly regulated active transcellular transport pathways for Ca(2+) from the duodenum of the intestine and the distal nephron of the kidney. However, comparatively little work has examined the molecular constituents creating the paracellular shunt across intestinal and renal epithelium, the transport pathway responsible for the majority of transepithelial Ca(2+) flux. More specifically, passive paracellular Ca(2+) absorption occurs across the majority of the intestine in addition to the renal proximal tubule and thick ascending limb of Henle's loop. Importantly, recent studies demonstrated that Ca(2+) transport through the paracellular shunt is significantly regulated. Therefore, we have summarized the evidence for different modes of paracellular Ca(2+) flux across renal and intestinal epithelia and highlighted recent molecular insights into both the mechanism of secondarily active paracellular Ca(2+) movement and the identity of claudins that permit the passage of Ca(2+) through the tight junction of these epithelia.
Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 2014, Vol 92, Issue 6, p. 467-480