The Nephron - Structure and Function of the Nephron

The Nephron
Credit: NIDDK
The nephron is the tiny filtering structure in your kidneys. Each of your kidneys contain more than a million tiny filtering nephrons that help clean your blood.

Function of the Nephrons

Your nephrons help:
  • Remove excess water,wastes and other substances from your blood.
  • Return substances like sodium, potassium or phosphorus whenever any of these substances run low in your body.

Each nephron is composed of two main structures: the glomerulus and renal (kidney) tubule.

The Glomerulus

The glomerulus is a tiny blood vessel or capillary, which looks like a ball of yarn. Actual filtering of your blood occurs in the glomerulus.

Each of your glomeruli acts like a sieve that helps keep normal proteins and cells in your bloodstream and allows wastes, excess fluid and other substances to pass.

The Tubule

The tubule, also called renal or kidney tubule, is a tiny tube where the wastes, extra fluid and other recyclable substances like sodium and potassium filtered out from the glomerulus pass through.

Image of Nepron showing the glomerulus and tubule
The Nephron: Showing the
Glomerulus and Tubule
Credit: NIDDK
Your kidneys measure out chemicals like sodium, phosphorus, and potassium and release them back to the blood to return to the body when need arises. In this way, your kidneys regulate the your body’s level of these substances. The right balance is necessary for you to function properly.
Damage to the Nephrons

Damage to your nephrons can lead to kidney disease. Conditions that can affect your glomerulus are:

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