Aging and physiological changes of the kidneys including changes in glomerular filtration rate

Nephron Physiol. 2011;119 Suppl 1:p1-5. doi: 10.1159/000328010. Epub 2011 Aug 10.


In addition to the structural changes in the kidney associated with aging, physiological changes in renal function are also found in older adults, such as decreased glomerular filtration rate, vascular dysautonomia, altered tubular handling of creatinine, reduction in sodium reabsorption and potassium secretion, and diminished renal reserve. These alterations make aged individuals susceptible to the development of clinical conditions in response to usual stimuli that would otherwise be compensated for in younger individuals, including acute kidney injury, volume depletion and overload, disorders of serum sodium and potassium concentration, and toxic reactions to water-soluble drugs excreted by the kidneys. Additionally, the preservation with aging of a normal urinalysis, normal serum urea and creatinine values, erythropoietin synthesis, and normal phosphorus, calcium and magnesium tubular handling distinguishes decreased GFR due to normal aging from that due to chronic kidney disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / physiopathology
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / pathology
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / pathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Sodium
  • Potassium