Assessment of renal autoregulation

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2007 Apr;292(4):F1105-23. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00194.2006. Epub 2007 Jan 16.


The kidney displays highly efficient autoregulation so that under steady-state conditions renal blood flow (RBF) is independent of blood pressure over a wide range of pressure. Autoregulation occurs in the preglomerular microcirculation and is mediated by two, perhaps three, mechanisms. The faster myogenic mechanism and the slower tubuloglomerular feedback contribute both directly and interactively to autoregulation of RBF and of glomerular capillary pressure. Multiple experiments have been used to study autoregulation and can be considered as variants of two basic designs. The first measures RBF after multiple stepwise changes in renal perfusion pressure to assess how a biological condition or experimental maneuver affects the overall pressure-flow relationship. The second uses time-series analysis to better understand the operation of multiple controllers operating in parallel on the same vascular smooth muscle. There are conceptual and experimental limitations to all current experimental designs so that no one design adequately describes autoregulation. In particular, it is clear that the efficiency of autoregulation varies with time and that most current techniques do not adequately address this issue. Also, the time-varying and nonadditive interaction between the myogenic mechanism and tubuloglomerular feedback underscores the difficulty of dissecting their contributions to autoregulation. We consider the modulation of autoregulation by nitric oxide and use it to illustrate the necessity for multiple experimental designs, often applied iteratively.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Feedback
  • Homeostasis*
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / physiology
  • Kidney Tubules / physiology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology
  • Nifedipine / pharmacology
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Rats
  • Renal Circulation / drug effects
  • Renal Circulation / physiology*
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nifedipine