Comparative studies of renal structure and function have potential to provide insights into the urine concentrating mechanism of the mammalian kidney. This review focuses on the tubular transport pathways for water and urea that play key roles in fluid and solute movements between various compartments of the rodent renal inner medulla. Information on aquaporin water channel and urea transporter expression has increased our understanding of functional segmentation of medullary thin limbs of Henle's loops, collecting ducts, and vasa recta. A more complete understanding of membrane transporters and medullary architecture has identified new and potentially significant interactions between these structures and the interstitium. These interactions are now being introduced into our concept of how the inner medullary urine concentrating mechanism works. A variety of regulatory pathways lead directly or indirectly to variable patterns of fluid and solute movements among the interstitial and tissue compartments. Animals with the ability to produce highly concentrated urine, such as desert species, are considered to exemplify tubular structure and function that optimize urine concentration. These species may provide unique insights into the urine concentrating process.
- desert rodent
- renal anatomy
- loop of Henle
- collecting duct
- Copyright © 2012, American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology