Intrarenal oxygenation: Unique challenges and the biophysical basis of homeostasis

Roger G. Evans, Bruce S. Gardiner, David W. Smith, Paul M O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


The kidney is faced with unique challenges for oxygen regulation, both because its function requires that perfusion greatly exceeds that required to meet metabolic demand and because vascular control in the kidney is dominated by mechanisms that regulate glomerular filtration and tubular reabsorption. Because tubular sodium reabsorption accounts for most oxygen consumption (V̇O2) in the kidney, renal V̇O2 varies with glomerular filtration rate. This provides an intrinsic mechanism to match changes in oxygen delivery due to changes in renal blood flow (RBF) with changes in oxygen demand. Renal V̇O2 is low relative to supply of oxygen, but diffusional arterial-to-venous (AV) oxygen shunting provides a mechanism by which oxygen superfluous to metabolic demand can bypass the renal microcirculation. This mechanism prevents development of tissue hyperoxia and subsequent tissue oxidation that would otherwise result from the mismatch between renal V̇O2 and RBF. Recent evidence suggests that RBF-dependent changes in AV oxygen shunting may also help maintain stable tissue oxygen tension when RBF changes within the physiological range. However, AV oxygen shunting also renders the kidney susceptible to hypoxia. Given that tissue hypoxia is a hallmark of both acute renal injury and chronic renal disease, understanding the causes of tissue hypoxia is of great clinical importance. The simplistic paradigm of oxygenation depending only on the balance between local perfusion and V̇O2 is inadequate to achieve this goal. To fully understand the control of renal oxygenation, we must consider a triad of factors that regulate intrarenal oxygenation: local perfusion, local V̇O2, and AV oxygen shunting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F1259-F1270
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Counter-current exchange
  • Diffusional oxygen shunting
  • Hyperoxia
  • Hypoxia
  • Kidney circulation
  • Kidney disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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