Eppur Si Muove: The dynamic nature of physiological control of renal blood flow by the renal sympathetic nerves
Research output: Contribution to journal › Review article
Tubuloglomerular feedback and the myogenic response are widely appreciated as important regulators of renal blood flow, but the role of the sympathetic nervous system in physiological renal blood flow control remains controversial. Where classic studies using static measures of renal blood flow failed, dynamic approaches have succeeded in demonstrating sympathetic control of renal blood flow under normal physiological conditions. This review focuses on transfer function analysis of renal pressure-flow, which leverages the physical relationship between blood pressure and flow to assess the underlying vascular control mechanisms. Studies using this approach indicate that the renal nerves are important in the rapid regulation of the renal vasculature. Animals with intact renal innervation show a sympathetic signature in the frequency range associated with sympathetic vasomotion that is eliminated by renal denervation. In conscious rabbits, this sympathetic signature exerts vasoconstrictive, baroreflex control of renal vascular conductance, matching well with the rhythmic, baroreflex-influenced control of renal sympathetic nerve activity and complementing findings from other studies employing dynamic approaches to study renal sympathetic vascular control. In this light, classic studies reporting that nerve stimulation and renal denervation do not affect static measures of renal blood flow provide evidence for the strength of renal autoregulation rather than evidence against physiological renal sympathetic control of renal blood flow. Thus, alongside tubuloglomerular feedback and the myogenic response, renal sympathetic outflow should be considered an important physiological regulator of renal blood flow. Clinically, renal sympathetic vasomotion may be important for solving the problems facing the field of therapeutic renal denervation.
- Baroreflex, Homeostasis, Kidney/blood supply, Renal artery, Renal circulation, Sympathetic nervous system, Vasoconstriction