The kidney filters vast quantities of Na at the glomerulus but excretes a very small fraction of this Na in the final urine. Although almost every nephron segment participates in the reabsorption of Na in the normal kidney, the proximal segments (from the glomerulus to the macula densa) and the distal segments (past the macula densa) play different roles. The proximal tubule and the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle interact with the filtration apparatus to deliver Na to the distal nephron at a rather constant rate. This involves regulation of both filtration and reabsorption through the processes of glomerulotubular balance and tubuloglomerular feedback. The more distal segments, including the distal convoluted tubule (DCT), connecting tubule, and collecting duct, regulate Na reabsorption to match the excretion with dietary intake. The relative amounts of Na reabsorbed in the DCT, which mainly reabsorbs NaCl, and by more downstream segments that exchange Na for K are variable, allowing the simultaneous regulation of both Na and K excretion.
Keywords: Na transport; renal physiology; water-electrolyte balance.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Society of Nephrology.