In each nephron of the mammalian kidney, the tubule returns to the hilus of the parent glomerulus, forming the juxtaglomerular apparatus (JGA). The JGA displays a unique arrangement of afferent and efferent arterioles, interstitial cells and macula densa (a specialized plaque of tubular epithelial cells). Because of this intimate anatomical relationship, it has long been suggested that the macula densa may somehow sense changes in the composition of the tubular fluid and control both the glomerular filtration rate and renin release. Despite extensive investigation, attempts to obtain direct evidence of this have been hindered by the anatomical complexity of the JGA. However, recent technical developments now permit direct assessment of the role of the macula densa in the control of both renin release and glomerular hemodynamics. These developments include microdissection/perfusion of the afferent arteriole, the macula densa or both, as well as a sensitive renin assay which permits measurement of renin release from a single JGA. Observations resulting from such developments are discussed in this article.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)