Loop of Henle interaction with interstitial nodal spaces in the renal inner medulla

Thomas L. Pannabecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Understanding dynamics of NaCl reabsorption from loops of Henle, and cellular and physiological consequences, requires a clear understanding of the structural relationships of loops with other functional elements of the inner medulla (IM). Pathways taken by ascending thin limbs (ATLs) and prebend segments along the corticopapillary axis were evaluated for the outer zone of the IM of the Munich-Wistar rat. Connectivity between these segments and microdomains of interstitium adjacent to collecting ducts (CDs) and abutting ascending vasa recta (interstitial nodal spaces) was assessed by evaluating their physical contacts. For each secondary CD cluster, the number of contacts made between the total population of ATLs and interstitial nodal spaces declines as a function of depth below the outer medulla (OM)-IM boundary at near the same exponential rate that loop number declines. The proportion of each loop that makes contact with nodal spaces is inversely related to loop length. Prebend and postbend equivalent length ATL segments lie in contact with an interstitial nodal space along nearly their entire lengths. The number of contacts made by the total population of prebend or postbend segments exhibits a marked, periodic increase and decrease as a function of depth below the OM-IM boundary; this number of contacts correlates with equivalent periodic changes in prebend number. Simulations of loop distribution indicate that small discontinuities in loop distribution contribute to periodic changes in prebend number. Convergence of IM loop bends within CD clusters likely plays an essential role in NaCl compartmentalization by promoting NaCl reabsorption near interstitial regions lying adjacent to CDs and ascending vasa recta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F1744-F1751
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Computer-assisted reconstruction
  • Concentrating mechanism
  • Countercurrent system
  • NaCl transport
  • Urea transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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