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Kidney: Excretion in Human

The kidneys are organs with several

• essential part of the urinary
• regulation of electrolytes
• maintenance of acid-base
• regulation of blood pressure
• remove wastes including urea and
• are responsible for the
reabsorption of water, glucose,
and amino acids.
• produce hormones including calcitriol, renin, and erythropoietin.

A nephron consists of a twisted tubule closed at one end, open at the other with a
network of associated blood vessels. Each kidney of man is formed of about one
million nephrons.

Each nephron has a length of about 3 cm. It is differentiated into 4 regions having
different anatomical features and different physiological roles.

The 4 regions are:

(a) Bowman's capsule
(b) Proximal convoluted tubule (PCT)
(c) Loop of Henle
(d) Distal convoluted tubule (DCT)

Bowman's capsule
• It is a large double walled cup.
• It lies in the renal cortex.
• It contains a tuft of capillaries
called glomerulus and the
outer wall is continuous with
the rest of the nephron.
• The space between the two
walls of the Bowman's
capsule is continuous with the lumen of the next part of the nephron. The
Bowman's capsule and the glomerulus together constitutes the renal
corpuscle or malpighian body.

• It starts from the neck of the Bowman's capsule.
• It is highly convoluted.
• It lies in the renal cortex.
• The wall consists of a single layer of columnar cells bearing a lot of microvilli
on the surface.

Loop of Henle
• It is a V shaped segment of the nephron located in the renal medulla.
• It consists of two straight parallel limbs: a descending limb which is a
continuation of the PCT and enters into the renal medulla and an ascending
limb which re-enters the renal cortex and joins
the DCT.

• It is greatly twisted like the PCT and lies in the
renal cortex.
• The terminal relatively short part of the DCT is
called the collecting tubule.
• It opens into the collecting duct.
• The collecting ducts receive the collecting
tubules of several nephrons. They pass into the
renal medulla and join each other forming large
ducts of Bellini. These run through the
medullary pyramids and open into the renal pelvis.
Nephrons as Kidney
Processing Units
Each kidney contains about a
million very fine tubes called
nephrons. Each has its own
blood supply, so the "dirty" blood
is divided between them. Then
each nephron processes the
blood and returns it in a
"cleaned" state, so urine is
produced as a result of their
combined effect.

There are 3 stages to this

1. Filtration (ultrafiltration)
2. Selective reabsorption,
3. Secretion
which happen in different parts of
the nephron.

Filtration - in Bowman's capsule

• Most of the simple substances dissolved in the plasma - those with "small"
molecules, example: water, glucose, amino acids, urea, mineral salts etc- are
forced by blood pressure out of the blood which passes into the capillaries of
the glomerulus.
• The remains in the capillaries including red blood cells and plasma proteins as
they are too large to pass through the filtration membrane.

Selective reabsorption

• Is a process where waste and excess substances that were not initially filtered
are secreted into the renal tubule.
• Secretion takes place in the renal tubules and collecting ducts but is
especially active at the distal convoluted tubule.
• It occurs by passive diffusion and active transport.
• Secreted substances includes hydrogen ions H+, potassium ions K+, ammonia
NH3 , urea, creatinine, toxins and certain drugs.

After these processes, the urine, range from pale to deep yellow clear liquid is
produced. It’s slightly acidic and made up of secreted substances.
The chart below shows how the amount of water reabsorption is controlled in the