Three-dimensional architecture of collecting ducts, loops of Henle, and blood vessels in the renal papilla

Thomas L. Pannabecker, William H. Dantzler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Three-dimensional architecture of vasculature and nephrons in rat renal papilla was assessed by digital reconstruction. Descending vasa recta (DVR), ascending vasa recta (AVR), descending thin limbs (DTLs), ascending thin limbs (ATLs), and collecting ducts (CDs) were identified with antibodies against segment-specific proteins. DTLs are distributed nonuniformly in transverse sections of papilla, but lateral compartmentation between DTLs and CD clusters that occurs in outer IM makes no contribution to concentrating mechanism in papilla. ATLs are distributed nearly uniformly throughout IM. Vasa recta within ∼2 mm of the papilla tip are primarily fenestrated vessels; therefore, AVR and DVR can only be determined by blood flow direction. CDs within ∼500 μm of the papilla tip have nearly 100% greater circumference than CDs within first 1-2 mm below the IM base. Return of water to general circulation from deep papillary CDs appears to be facilitated by a 150% increase in the number of AVR closely abutting these CDs. Consequently, average fractional CD surface area abutting AVR is 0.61, about the same as that (0.54) for smaller CDs that lie near the IM base. Interstitial nodal compartments, bounded by CDs, ATLs, and AVR, surround CDs along the axis of the IM. Fewer ATLs exist in the final 1 mm, as there are fewer loops and the number of these nodal arrangements is therefore reduced. However, tips of many of those loops reaching this area have bends with 50-100% greater transverse lengths than bends of loops near the IM base. This may be significant for solute movement out of loop bends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F696-F704
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Aquaporin
  • ClC-K
  • Concentrating mechanism
  • Countercurrent multiplier
  • Three-dimensional reconstruction
  • αB crystallin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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