Macula Densa

In the kidney, the macula densa is an area of closely packed specialized cells lining the wall of the distal tubule at the point of return of the nephron to the vascular pole of its parent glomerulus, (glomerular vascular pole).

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The cells of the macula densa are sensitive to the concentration of sodium chloride in the distal convoluted tubule.  A decrease in sodium chloride concentration initiates a signal from the macula densa that has two effects: (1) it decreases resistance to blood flow in the afferent arterioles, which increases glomerular hydrostatic pressure and helps return glomerulus filtration rate (GFR) toward normal, and (2) it increases renin release from the juxtaglomerular cells of the afferent and efferent arterioles, which are the major storage sites for renin.

 

The release of renin is an essential component of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system(RAAS), which regulates blood pressure and volume.

 

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