Glomerular Filtration The First Step in Urine Formation

Composition of the Glomerular Filtrate

Urine formation begins with filtration of large amounts of fluid through the glomerular capillaries into Bowman's capsule. Like most capillaries, the glomerular capillaries are relatively impermeable to proteins, so that the filtered fluid (called the glomerular filtrate) is essentially protein-free and devoid of cellular elements, including red blood cells.

The concentrations of other constituents of the glomerular filtrate, including most salts and organic molecules, are similar to the concentrations in the plasma. Exceptions to this generalization include a few low-molecular-weight substances, such as calcium and fatty acids, that are not freely filtered because they are partially bound to the plasma proteins. Almost one half of the plasma calcium and most of the plasma fatty acids are bound to proteins, and these bound portions are not filtered through the glomerular capillaries.

Draw Level Glomerular Membrane

Figure 26-10

A, Basic ultrastructure of the glomerular capillaries. B, Cross section of the glomerular capillary membrane and its major components: capillary endothelium, basement membrane, and epithelium (podocytes).

GFR Is About 20 Per Cent of the Renal Plasma Flow

As in other capillaries, the GFR is determined by (1) the balance of hydrostatic and colloid osmotic forces acting across the capillary membrane and (2) the capillary filtration coefficient (Kf), the product of the permeability and filtering surface area of the capillaries. The glomerular capillaries have a much higher rate of filtration than most other capillaries because of a high glomerular hydrostatic pressure and a large Kf. In the average adult human, the GFR is about 125 ml/min, or 180 L/day. The fraction of the renal plasma flow that is filtered (the filtration fraction) averages about 0.2; this means that about 20 per cent of the plasma flowing through the kidney is filtered through the glomerular capillaries. The filtration fraction is calculated as follows:

Filtration fraction = GFR/Renal plasma flow

Glomerular Capillary Membrane

The glomerular capillary membrane is similar to that of other capillaries, except that it has three (instead of the usual two) major layers: (1) the endothelium of the capillary, (2) a basement membrane, and (3) a layer of epithelial cells (podocytes) surrounding the outer surface of the capillary basement membrane (Figure 26-10). Together, these layers make up the filtration barrier, which, despite the three layers, filters several hundred times as much water and solutes as the usual capillary membrane. Even with this high rate of filtra-tion,the glomerular capillary membrane normally prevents filtration of plasma proteins.

Figure 26-10

A, Basic ultrastructure of the glomerular capillaries. B, Cross section of the glomerular capillary membrane and its major components: capillary endothelium, basement membrane, and epithelium (podocytes).

The high filtration rate across the glomerular capillary membrane is due partly to its special characteristics. The capillary endothelium is perforated by thousands of small holes called fenestrae, similar to the fenestrated capillaries found in the liver. Although the fenestrations are relatively large, endothelial cells are richly endowed with fixed negative charges that hinder the passage of plasma proteins.

Surrounding the endothelium is the basement membrane, which consists of a meshwork of collagen and proteoglycan fibrillae that have large spaces through which large amounts of water and small solutes can filter. The basement membrane effectively prevents filtration of plasma proteins, in part because of strong negative electrical charges associated with the proteoglycans.

The final part of the glomerular membrane is a layer of epithelial cells that line the outer surface of the glomerulus. These cells are not continuous but have long footlike processes (podocytes) that encircle the outer surface of the capillaries (see Figure 26-10). The foot processes are separated by gaps called slit pores through which the glomerular filtrate moves. The epithelial cells, which also have negative charges, provide additional restriction to filtration of plasma proteins. Thus, all layers of the glomerular capillary wall provide a barrier to filtration of plasma proteins.

Water Molecular Radius

Effective molecular radius (A)

Figure 26-11

Effective molecular radius (A)

Figure 26-11

Table 26-1

Filterability of Substances by Glomerular Capillaries Based on Molecular Weight

Table 26-1

Filterability of Substances by Glomerular Capillaries Based on Molecular Weight

Substance

Molecular Weight

Filterability

Water

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Responses

  • eemeli
    Why fatty acids are not filtered to the bowmans capsule?
    3 years ago
  • JASMINE
    What element is filtrate by glomerular filtration?
    3 years ago
  • amethyst headstrong
    Why is the glomerular capillary impermeable to protein?
    3 years ago
  • veijo
    Why are fatty acids not filtered in bowmanss capsule?
    5 months ago

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