The rat renal nerves during development

Anat Embryol (Berl). 1993 Oct;188(4):345-61. doi: 10.1007/BF00185944.


The prenatal and postnatal development of the innervation of the rat kidney has been investigated using immunocytochemical methods. The efferent innervation was studied using dopamine-beta-hydroxylase and neuropeptide Y antibodies. Calcitonin gene related peptide and substance P antibodies were used to investigate the afferent innervation. Kidneys from embryos of 14 to 20 days, from newborn rats, and from animals of 4, 10, 12, 21, 38, 60, and 90 days of age were studied. Slices of whole kidneys were analyzed, and frozen sections were used to investigate the location of the nerves in more detail. Both afferent and efferent nerves are observed inside the kidney by embryonic day 16. At birth, the afferent nerves are found (1) forming a rich plexus in the renal pelvis; (2) associated with the renal vasculature as far as the interlobular arteries (cortical radial arteries) and (3) in the corticomedullary connective tissue. The efferent innervation appears, at birth, to extend to the interlobular arteries and to the afferent arterioles of the perihilar juxtamedullary nephrons. The efferent innervation increases rapidly during the following days, and by postnatal day 21 a distribution of the innervation similar to that of the adult is observed. While the afferent innervation reaches the major target regions of the kidney by birth, the efferent does most of its expansion into the kidney postnatally. Afferent and efferent fibers are found, extrarenally and intrarenally, in the same nerve bundles. This proximity between afferent and efferent fibers may represent anatomical bases for their interaction in the adult as well as during development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / embryology
  • Afferent Pathways / growth & development
  • Afferent Pathways / metabolism
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / metabolism
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase / metabolism
  • Efferent Pathways / embryology
  • Efferent Pathways / growth & development
  • Efferent Pathways / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Kidney / growth & development
  • Kidney / innervation*
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substance P / metabolism


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Substance P
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide