Nephron: Definition and Meaning, Structure of Nephron, Types of Nephron

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Definition and Meaning of Nephron

  • It can be denied as the basic functional unit of kidneys that consists of a glomerulus and its associated tubules.

  • The glomerular filtrate passes through before it emerges as urine.

  • These are the microscopic structure composed of a renal corpuscle and a renal tubule.

  • In Greek, the word nephron means kidney.

  • Each human kidney consists of about millions of nephrons.

A kidney nephron and its structure

A Kidney Nephron and Its Structure

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Structure of Nephron

  • It is the functional unit of Kidney.

  • The main work of the kidney is performed at each separate nephron.

  • It is made up of two parts a renal corpuscle and a renal tubule.

Renal Corpuscle

  • It is the initial filtering component.

  • It is the site of the filtration of blood plasma.

  • It consists of the glomerulus and the glomerular capsule or Bowman’s capsule.

  • A vascular pole and a tubular pole are the two poles.

  • At the renal tubule at the urinary pole, the glomerular filtrate leaves the Bowman’s capsule.

  • At the vascular pole, the arterioles from the renal circulation enter and leave the glomerulus.

Bowman’s Capsule

  • It is a double-walled cuplike structure that makes up part of the nephron.

  • It is also known as Bowman capsule, glomerular capsule, renal corpuscular capsule, or capsular glomeruli.

  • It creates a urinary space through which filtrate can enter the nephron and pass to the proximal convoluted tubule.


  • Each glomerulus receives its blood supply from an afferent arteriole of the renal circulation.

  • The glomerular blood pressure provides:

    • The driving force for water and solutes to be filtered out of the blood plasma.

    • Into the interior of Bowman’s capsule, called Bowman’s space.

  • The rest passes into an efferent arteriole, only about a fifth of the plasma is filtered in the glomerulus.

Renal Tubule

  • It is the portion of the nephron containing the tubular fluid filtered through the glomerulus.

  • The filtrate continues to the collecting duct system after passing through the renal tubule.

Components of the Renal Tubule

  • Proximal convoluted tubule (lies in cortex and lined by simple cuboidal epithelium with brush borders.

    • Help to increase the area of absorption.

  • Loop of Henle is the hairpin like, i.e. U-shaped, and lies in medulla.

  • The collecting duct system of the kidney consists of a series of tubules and ducts.

    • Physically connect nephrons to a minor calyx.

    • Directly to the renal pelvis.

    • The collecting duct system is the last part of nephron and participates in electrolyte and fluid balance.

Collecting Duct System

Collecting Duct System

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Distal Convoluted Tubule
  • A portion of kidney nephron between the loop of Henle and the collecting tubule is called the distal convoluted tubule (DCT).

Length Difference
  • Juxtamedullary nephrons are found only in birds and mammals.

  • Juxtamedullary nephrons start low in the cortex near the medulla and have a long loop of Henle.

  • Cortical nephrons (many nephrons) start high in the cortex and have a short loop of Henle.

    • Can be subdivided into superficial cortical nephrons and midcortical nephrons.

Length difference

Length Difference

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