Function of Renal Nerves in Kidney Physiology and Pathophysiology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Renal sympathetic (efferent) nerves play an important role in the regulation of renal function, including glomerular filtration, sodium reabsorption, and renin release. The kidney is also innervated by sensory (afferent) nerves that relay information to the brain to modulate sympathetic outflow. Hypertension and other cardiometabolic diseases are linked to overactivity of renal sympathetic and sensory nerves, but our mechanistic understanding of these relationships is limited. Clinical trials of catheter-based renal nerve ablation to treat hypertension have yielded promising results. Therefore, a greater understanding of how renal nerves control the kidney under physiological and pathophysiological conditions is needed. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge of the anatomy of efferent and afferent renal nerves and their functions in normal and pathophysiological conditions. We also suggest further avenues of research for development of novel therapies targeting the renal nerves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-450
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Physiology
StatePublished - Feb 10 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dusty Van Helden, Louis Evans, Daniel Baumann, and Mariana Ruiz Lauar for their helpful comments and discussion during the preparation of this manuscript. Funding for research cited in this review for J.W.O and L.V. comes from the US National Institutes of Health (grants HL116476, DK 116320).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Annual Reviews Inc.. All rights reserved.


  • hypertension
  • renal denervation
  • renal inflammation
  • renal sensory nerves
  • renal sympathetic nerves

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review


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