Comparison of size of juxtamedullary and outer cortical glomeruli in normal adult kidney

Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histopathol. 1992;420(2):127-9. doi: 10.1007/BF02358803.


Abnormally large glomeruli are susceptible to hyperfiltration-associated sclerosis. We used an established morphometric method to test the general belief that juxtamedullary glomeruli are larger than those in the outer cortex, in a population with no clinical or pathological evidence of renal disease. Overall, juxtamedullary glomeruli were significantly larger, but this varied according to the amount of global glomerulosclerosis present. Global sclerosis increased with age, particularly in the outer cortex, and the ratio of juxtamedullary to outer cortical glomerular size showed a positive correlation with overall, and outer cortical, global sclerosis. Thus in the truly normal adult kidney, juxtamedullary glomeruli are not significantly larger than outer cortical glomeruli. However, global sclerosis increases with age and is most marked in the outer cortex, and this leads to compensatory enlargement of predominantly the juxtamedullary glomeruli. These findings suggest that in single kidneys, or in conditions characterised by ischaemic glomerulosclerosis such as hypertension, morphological changes related to hyperfiltration may appear first, and therefore become most severe, in juxtamedullary glomeruli.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / anatomy & histology*
  • Kidney Medulla / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size