Renal vascular structure and rarefaction

Compr Physiol. 2013 Apr;3(2):817-31. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c120012.


An intact microcirculation is vital for diffusion of oxygen and nutrients and for removal of toxins of every organ and system in the human body. The functional and/or anatomical loss of microvessels is known as rarefaction, which can compromise the normal organ function and have been suggested as a possible starting point of several diseases. The purpose of this overview is to discuss the potential underlying mechanisms leading to renal microvascular rarefaction, and the potential consequences on renal function and on the progression of renal damage. Although the kidney is a special organ that receives much more blood than its metabolic needs, experimental and clinical evidence indicates that renal microvascular rarefaction is associated to prevalent cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis, either as cause or consequence. On the other hand, emerging experimental evidence using progenitor cells or angiogenic cytokines supports the feasibility of therapeutic interventions capable of modifying the progressive nature of microvascular rarefaction in the kidney. This overview will also attempt to discuss the potential renoprotective mechanisms of the therapeutic targeting of the renal microcirculation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney / blood supply*
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Microcirculation
  • Microvessels / pathology
  • Microvessels / physiology*
  • Renal Circulation