Biochemical controls: the kidney pumps blood (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 15:24 (505 days ago) @ David Turell

The kidney doesn't just filter blood, it pumps it along:

"Human kidneys are an intricate network of tubes that process roughly 190 quarts of blood every day. Lining these tubes are epithelial cells that transport blood through the kidneys and circulate it back into the body. How these immobile cells generate the mechanical force needed to do their job is not fully understood. To unlock the secrets of this fluid transport process, a Johns Hopkins mechanical engineer has created a device that measures mechanical forces generated by both healthy and diseased kidney cells.

"'Fundamental physical laws say that you need forces to move things. In this case, the cells are not moving, but they are moving fluid. The question then becomes how do they do this?" said Sean Sun, a professor in the Whiting School of Engineering's Department of Mechanical Engineering and a core member of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology.


"The researchers noticed that kidney epithelial cells behave like mechanical fluid pumps and actively generate a fluid pressure gradient. The fluid pumping behavior is characterized by a pump performance curve, which is very much like a water pump in a house. Most people believe that kidneys behave like a conventional filter, which needs external pressure to move fluid. However, Sun and his team showed that cells can actually generate the needed pressure themselves—an insight with important implications for understanding kidney physiological function.

"'Everyone hears that kidneys filter blood, but conceptually that is incorrect. What we showed is that kidney cells are pumps, not filters, and they are generating forces," Sun said."

Comment: kidney blood vessels are extremely tiny, and the arterial blood delivered to them under pressure must be reduced to almost zero for proper filtration. That an extra push is designed into kidney cells is not surprising, but is necessary. Such complexity is irreducibly complex as it must be designed all at once for the kidney system to work.

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