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autoregulates renal blood flow and GFR in parallel. However, because this mechanism is specifically directed toward stabilizing sodium chloride delivery to the distal tubule, there are instances when GFR is autoregulated at the expense of changes in renal blood flow, as discussed later.

The tubuloglomerular feedback mechanism has two components that act together to control GFR: (1) an afferent arteriolar feedback mechanism and (2) an efferent arteriolar feedback mechanism. These feedback mechanisms depend on special anatomical arrangements of the juxtaglomerular complex (Figure 26-17).

The juxtaglomerular complex consists of macula densa cells in the initial portion of the distal tubule and juxtaglomerular cells in the walls of the afferent and efferent arterioles. The macula densa is a specialized group of epithelial cells in the distal tubules that comes in close contact with the afferent and efferent arteri-oles. The macula densa cells contain Golgi apparatus, which are intracellular secretory organelles directed toward the arterioles, suggesting that these cells may be secreting a substance toward the arterioles.

Decreased Macula Densa Sodium Chloride Causes Dilation of Afferent Arterioles and Increased Renin Release. The macula densa cells sense changes in volume delivery to the distal tubule by way of signals that are not completely understood. Experimental studies suggest that decreased GFR slows the flow rate in the loop of Henle, causing increased reabsorption of sodium and chloride ions in the ascending loop of Henle, thereby reducing the concentration of sodium chloride at the macula densa cells. This decrease in sodium chloride concentration initiates a signal from the macula densa that has two effects (Figure 26-18): (1) it decreases resistance to blood flow in the afferent arterioles, which raises glomerular hydrostatic pressure and helps return GFR toward normal, and (2) it increases renin release from the juxtaglomerular cells of the afferent and efferent arterioles, which are the major storage sites for renin. Renin released from these cells then functions as an enzyme to increase the formation of angiotensin I, which is converted to angiotensin II. Finally, the angiotensin II constricts the efferent arte-rioles, thereby increasing glomerular hydrostatic pressure and returning GFR toward normal.

These two components of the tubuloglomerular feedback mechanism, operating together by way of the special anatomical structure of the juxtaglomerular apparatus, provide feedback signals to both the afferent and the efferent arterioles for efficient autoregulation of GFR during changes in arterial pressure. When both of these mechanisms are functioning together, the GFR changes only a few percentage points, even with large fluctuations in arterial pressure between the limits of 75 and 160 mm Hg.

Glomerular epithelium

Glomerular epithelium

Juxtaglomerular cells

Internal elastic lamina

Smooth muscle fiber

Distal tubule

Basement membrane

Figure 26-17

Juxtaglomerular cells

Afferent arteriole

Internal elastic lamina

Smooth muscle fiber

Distal tubule

Basement membrane

Figure 26-17

Structure of the juxtaglomerular apparatus, demonstrating its possible feedback role in the control of nephron function.

^f Arterial pressure

I Glomerular hydrostatic T pressure

Renin

^ Angiotensin II

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