Coupling-induced complexity in nephron models of renal blood flow regulation

Jakob Lund Laugesen, Olga Sosnovtseva, Erik Mosekilde, Niels-Henrik Holstein-Rathlou, D.J. Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Marsh DJ. Coupling-induced complexity in nephron models of renal blood flow regulation. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 298: R997-R1006, 2010. First published February 10, 2010; doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00714.2009.-Tubular pressure and nephron blood flow time series display two interacting oscillations in rats with normal blood pressure. Tubulo-glomerular feedback (TGF) senses NaCl concentration in tubular fluid at the macula densa, adjusts vascular resistance of the nephron's afferent arteriole, and generates the slower, larger-amplitude oscillations (0.02-0.04 Hz). The faster smaller oscillations (0.1-0.2 Hz) result from spontaneous contractions of vascular smooth muscle triggered by cyclic variations in membrane electrical potential. The two mechanisms interact in each nephron and combine to act as a high-pass filter, adjusting diameter of the afferent arteriole to limit changes of glomerular pressure caused by fluctuations of blood pressure. The oscillations become irregular in animals with chronic high blood pressure. TGF feedback gain is increased in hypertensive rats, leading to a stronger interaction between the two mechanisms. With a mathematical model that simulates tubular and arteriolar dynamics, we tested whether an increase in the interaction between TGF and the myogenic mechanism can cause the transition from periodic to irregular dynamics. A one-dimensional bifurcation analysis, using the coefficient that couples TGF and the myogenic mechanism as a bifurcation parameter, shows some regions with chaotic dynamics. With two nephrons coupled electrotonically, the chaotic regions become larger. The results support the hypothesis that increased oscillator interactions contribute to the transition to irregular fluctuations, especially when neighboring nephrons are coupled, which is the case in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)R997-R1006
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • chaos
  • renal autoregulation
  • myogenic mechanism
  • nonlinear dynamics
  • tubuloglomerular feedback


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