Differential neural control of glomerular ultrafiltration

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2004 May-Jun;31(5-6):380-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2004.04002.x.


The renal nerves constrict the renal vasculature, causing decreases in renal blood flow (RBF) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Whether renal haemodynamics are influenced by changes in renal nerve activity within the physiological range is a matter of debate. We have identified two morphologically distinct populations of nerves within the kidney, which are differentially distributed to the renal afferent and efferent arterioles. Type I nerves almost exclusively innervate the afferent arteriole whereas type II nerves are distributed equally on the afferent and efferent arterioles. We have also demonstrated that type II nerves are immunoreactive for neuropeptide Y, whereas type I nerves are not. This led us to hypothesize that, in the kidney, distinct populations of nerves innervate specific effector tissues and that these nerves may be selectively activated, setting the basis for the differential neural control of GFR. In physiological studies, we demonstrated that differential changes in glomerular capillary pressure occurred in response to graded reflex activation of the renal nerves, compatible with our hypothesis. Thus, sympathetic outflow may be capable of selectively increasing or decreasing glomerular capillary pressure and, hence, GFR by differentially activating separate populations of renal nerves. This has important implications for our understanding of the neural control of body fluid balance in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / physiology*
  • Hemofiltration*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Glomerulus / innervation*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*