Concentration of Solutes in the Renal Inner Medulla: Interstitial Hyaluronan as a Mechano-Osmotic Transducer

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Title: Concentration of Solutes in the Renal Inner Medulla: Interstitial Hyaluronan as a Mechano-Osmotic Transducer
Authors: Knepper, Mark; Saidel, Gerald M.; Hascall, Vincent C.; Dwyer, Terry
Publisher: American Journal of Physiology: Renal Physiology
Date Published: March 01, 2003
Reference Number: 586
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Although the concentrating process in the renal outer medulla is well understood, the concentrating mechanism in the renal inner medulla remains an enigma. The purposes of this review are fourfold. 1) We summarize a theoretical basis for classifying all possible steady-state inner medullary countercurrent concentrating mechanisms based on mass balance principles. 2) We review the major hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the axial osmolality gradient in the interstitium of the renal inner medulla. 3) We summarize and expand on the Schmidt-Nielsen hypothesis that the contractions of the renal pelvocalyceal wall may provide an important energy source for concentration in the inner medulla. 4) We discuss the special properties of hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan that is the chief component of a gel-like renal inner medullary interstitial matrix, which may allow it to function as a mechano-osmotic transducer, converting energy from the contractions of the pelvic wall to an axial osmolality gradient in the medulla. These considerations set the stage for renewed experimental investigation of the urinary concentrating process and a new generation of mathematical models of the renal concentrating mechanism, which treat the inner medullary interstitium as a viscoelastic system rather than a purely hydraulic system.

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