Cyclophosphamide is clinically useful in treating malignancy and rheumatologic disease, but has limitations in that it induces hyponatremia. The mechanisms by which cyclophosphamide induces water retention in the kidney have yet to be identified. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that cyclophosphamide may produce water retention via the proximal nephron, where aquaporin-1 (AQP1) and aquaporin-7 (AQP7) water channels participate in water absorption. To test this hypothesis, we gave a single dose of intraperitoneal cyclophosphamide to male Sprague-Dawley rats and treated rabbit proximal tubule cells (PTCs) with 4-hydroperoxycyclophosphamide (4-HC), an active metabolite of cyclophosphamide. In the short-term 3-day rat study, AQP1 protein expression was significantly increased in the whole kidney homogenates by cyclophosphamide administration at 48 (614 +/- 194%, P < 0.005), and 96 (460 +/- 46%, P < 0.05) mg/kg BW compared with vehicle-treated controls. Plasma sodium concentration was significantly decreased (143 +/- 1 vs. 146 +/- 1 mEq/L, P < 0.05) by cyclophosphamide 100 mg/kg BW in the long-term 6-day rat study. When primary cultured rabbit PTCs were treated with 4-HC for 24 hours, the protein expressions of AQP1 and AQP7 were increased in a dose-dependent manner. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed no significant changes in the mRNA levels of AQP1 and AQP7 from cyclophosphamide-treated rat renal cortices. From these preliminary data, we conclude that the proximal nephron may be involved in cyclophosphamide-induced water retention via AQP1 and AQP7 water channels. Further studies are required to demonstrate intracellular mechanisms that affect the expression of AQP proteins.