Neural control of renal function

Physiol Rev. 1997 Jan;77(1):75-197. doi: 10.1152/physrev.1997.77.1.75.


The renal nerves are the communication link between the central nervous system and the kidney. In response to multiple peripheral and central inputs, efferent renal sympathetic nerve activity is altered so as to convey information to the major structural and functional components of the kidney, the vessels, glomeruli, and tubules, each of which is innervated. At the level of each of these individual components, information transfer occurs via interaction of the neurotransmitter released at the sympathetic nerve terminal-neuroeffector junction with specific postjunctional receptors coupled to defined intracellular signaling and effector systems. In response to normal physiological stimuli, changes in efferent renal sympathetic nerve activity contribute importantly to homeostatic regulation of renal blood flow, glomerular filtration rate, renal tubular epithelial cell solute and water transport, and hormonal release. Afferent input from sensory receptors located in the kidney participates in this reflex control system via renorenal reflexes that enable total renal function to be self-regulated and balanced between the two kidneys. In pathophysiological conditions, abnormal regulation of efferent renal sympathetic nerve activity contributes significantly to the associated abnormalities of renal function which, in turn, are of importance in the pathogenesis of the disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Renal Circulation / physiology*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*