The ultrastructure of the thin limbs of henle in kidneys of the desert heteromyid Perognathus penicillatus

Ray B. Nagle, E. M. Altschuler, Dennis C. Dobyan, S. Dong, Ruth Ellen Bulger

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The thin limbs of both long‐ and short‐looped nephrons in Perognathus kidneys were studied with transmission and scanning electron microscopy. The superficial nephrons have a short thin limb located in the vascular bundles of the outer medulla and are characterized by a simple, low‐lying epithelium (0.4 ± 0.1 μ thickness). In contrast, the first descending part of the thin limb of the majority of midcortical and juxtamedullary nephrons has a relatively thick epithelium (1.7 ± 0.6 μ in thickness) with marked lateral and basal interdigitation and a dense surface covering of microvilli. The remaining part of the long descending thin limb is relatively simple with a low‐lying epithelium (0.6 ± 0.1 μ in thickness), decorated on its surface by sparse microplicae. The bend of the loop and the ascending limb are covered by a very simple low‐lying epithelium (0.6 ± 0.2 μ in thickness) with relatively little surface modification. The extreme urine‐concentrating ability of Perognathus does not appear to be due to the development of a unique thin loop epithelium but rather to the extensive length of the inner and outer medulla.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-47
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Anatomy
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1981


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy

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