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The Urinary System

ibn tufail 70

The urinary system, also known as the renal system, consists of the two kidneys, ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. Each kidney consists of millions of functional units called nephrons. The purpose of the renal system is to eliminate wastes from the body, regulate blood volume and pressure, control levels of electrolytes and metabolites, and regulate blood pH. The kidneys have extensive blood supply via the renal arteries which leave the kidneys via the renal vein. Following filtration of blood and further processing, wastes (in the form of urine) exit the kidney via the ureters, tubes made of smooth muscle fibers that propel urine towards the urinary bladder, where it is stored and subsequently expelled from the body by urination (voiding). The female and male urinary system are very similar, differing only in the length of the urethra.

Urine is formed in the kidneys through a filtration of blood. The urine is then passed through the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored. During urination (peeing) the urine is passed from the bladder through the urethra to the outside of the body.

About 1-2 litres of urine are produced every day in a healthy human, although this amount may vary according to circumstances such as fluid intake.

Average urine production in adult humans is about 1 – 2 L per day, depending on state of hydration, activity level, environmental factors, weight, and the individual’s health. Producing too much or too little urine needs medical attention. Polyuria is a condition of excessive production of urine (> 2.5 L/day), oliguria when < 400 mL are produced, and anuria one of < 100 mL per day.

The first step in urine formation is the filtration of blood in the kidneys. In a healthy human the kidney receives between 12 and 30% of cardiac output, but it averages about 20% or about 1.25 L/min.

The basic structural and functional unit of the kidney is the nephron. Its chief function is to regulate the concentration of water and soluble substances like sodium salts by filtering the blood, reabsorbing what is needed and excreting the rest as urine.

In the first part of the nephron, the renal corpuscle blood is being filtrated from the circulatory system into the nephron. A pressure difference between forces the filtrate from the blood across the filtration membrane. The filtrate includes water, small molecules and ions that easily pass through the filtration membrane. However larger molecules such as proteins and blood cells are prevented from passing through the filtration membrane. The amount of filtrate produced every minute is called the glomerular filtration rate or GFR and amounts to a staggering 180 litres per day. About 99% of this filtrate is then reabsorbed as it passes through the nephron and the remaining 1% becomes urine.

The urinary system is regulated by the endocrine system by hormones such as antidiuretic hormone, aldosterone, and parathyroid hormone.

The urinary system is under influence of the blood pressure, nervous system and endocrine system.

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH), is a neurohypophysial hormone found in most mammals. Its two primary functions are to retain water in the body and to constrict blood vessels. Vasopressin regulates the body’s retention of water by acting to increase water absorption in the collecting ducts of the kidney nephron. Vasopressin increases water permeability of the kidney’s collecting duct and distal convoluted tubule by inducing translocation of aquaporin-CD water channels in the kidney nephron collecting duct plasma membrane.


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