AIM - In adult mammalian kidney, COX-2 expression is found in a restricted subpopulation of cells. The two sites of renal COX-2 localization detected in all species to date are the macula densa (MD) and associated cortical thick ascending limb cells (cTALH) and medullary interstitial cells. Physiological regulation of COX-2 in these cellular compartments suggests functional roles for eicosanoid products of the enzyme. In the MD region, COX-2 expression increases in high renin states [salt restriction, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition, renovascular hypertension], and selective COX-2 inhibitors significantly decrease plasma renin levels and renal renin activity and mRNA expression. An important role for COX-2-derived prostanoids in regulation of renin expression and secretion has also been determined by using mice with selective genetic deletion of either the COX-1 or COX-2 gene. There is evidence for negative regulation of MD/cTALH COX-2 by angiotensin II and by glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, suggesting that in the kidney, cortical COX-2 expression is regulated in part by alterations in activity of the renin-angiotensin system.