Glomerular haemodynamics, the renal sympathetic nervous system and sepsis-induced acute kidney injury

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2014 Dec;29(12):2178-84. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfu052. Epub 2014 Mar 11.


Background: To describe recent insights into glomerular haemodynamics in septic acute kidney injury (AKI).

Methods: We reviewed the literature with particular emphasis on recent findings in animal experiments and human studies in relation to renal macro- and micro-renal haemodynamics during septic AKI.

Results: The dominant paradigm is that septic AKI is due to decreased renal perfusion with ischaemic loss of glomerular filtration rate (GFR), ischaemic tubular cell injury and acute tubular necrosis (ATN). However, recent experimental and human studies challenge this view of the pathogenesis of septic AKI. In addition, rapid post-mortem and experimental histological studies do not support ATN as the histological substrate of septic AKI. Finally, more recent experimental evidence suggests that changes in the glomerular and peri-glomerular haemodynamics provide a more likely explanation for the loss of GFR seen in the early phases of septic AKI.

Conclusions: Despite a long-standing paradigm that septic AKI is due to renal hypo-perfusion and associated ATN, experimental and human studies increasingly suggest that changes in the state of the glomerular and peri-glomerular micro-vasculature are a more likely additional explanation for this condition.

Keywords: acute kidney injury; afferent arteriole; efferent arteriole; renal blood flow; sepsis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Glomerulus / innervation*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / physiopathology
  • Kidney Tubular Necrosis, Acute / etiology
  • Kidney Tubular Necrosis, Acute / physiopathology*
  • Sepsis / complications*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / pathology*