Macula densa cell function

Kidney Int Suppl. 1991 Jun;32:S39-44.


Studies concerning the sensing step in the tubuloglomerular feedback (TGF) mechanism have been conflicting. To study this step, we measured macula densa (MD) cell volume and membrane potentials in the isolated perfused ascending limb of the loop of Henle with attached glomerulus with MD segments (cTAL-MD). Addition of furosemide reduced cell volume rapidly and the effect could be reversed on removal of the drug. From the time course of cell volume changes hydraulic conductivity could be measured both in the basolateral and apical cell membrane. It was found that the apical cell membrane constituted the main barrier for water flow with a low hydraulic conductance, while the basolateral hydraulic conductance was quite high. Measurements of the basolateral electrical potential in the MD cells have shown a mean electrical potential of -56 mV. This potential was hyperpolarized by the addition of furosemide, the Cl channel blocker NPPB, or during a reduction of luminal NaCl from 150 to 30 mM, and depolarized when bath Cl concentration was reduced from 150 to 30 mM. These results are consistent with the following model for electrolytes transported and similar to the one described in the cTAL [15]. In the luminal cell membrane there is an Na-K-2Cl cotransporter that takes these ions into the MD cells and there is a potassium recycling through a K channel. On the basolateral membrane side there is an Na-K pump and a Cl channel through which chloride is transported out of the MD cell. The Na-K pump activity seems to be only 1/40 of that in the cTAL cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Furosemide / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kidney Glomerulus / physiology
  • Kidney Tubules, Distal / cytology*
  • Kidney Tubules, Distal / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Distal / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Perfusion
  • Rabbits


  • Furosemide