Describe the Structure and Functioning of Nephrons

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

To describe the structure and functioning of nephrons, it is important to understand their role in the filtration, reabsorption, and secretion processes. The nephron is the functional unit of the kidney responsible for the filtration, reabsorption, and secretion of substances to produce urine. They are composed of renal corpuscles and renal tubules. The renal corpuscles have a tuft of capillaries known as a glomerulus and an encompassing Bowman’s capsule.

The nephrons play a crucial role in maintaining the body’s overall health and well-being. So, let us try and understand the structure and functioning of nephrons in depth.

Structure and Function of Nephrons

As mentioned above, the structure and functioning of Nephrons can be described through their role in processes like filtration, reabsorption, and secretion of urine. Furthermore, a nephron consists of several distinct parts, each with its specific function. Some of the parts include – Renal Corpuscle, Proximal Convoluted Tubule (PCT), Loop of Henle, Distal Convoluted Tubule (DCT), and more. We have discussed the structure and functioning of Nephrons in detail below.

Structure of Nephron

  • Basic filtering units of the kidney.
  • There are approximately a large number of nephrons i.e. 1-1.5 million in each kidney.
  • A long renal tubule, Bowman’s capsule, and glomerulus are the main components of a nephron.

This simple and easy depiction of the structure of nephron shows the Bowman’s capsule, proximal convoluted tubule, Loop of Henle, Descending Limb of Loop of Henle, Collecting duct, Distal convoluted tubule, and Ascending Limb of Loop of Henle.

Functioning of Nephron

  • Blood enters the kidney through the renal artery that branches into capillaries which are associated with the glomerulus.
  • At Bowman’s capsule, water and solute are transferred to the nephron.
  • In the proximal tube, substances like glucose, amino acids, and salts are reabsorbed selectively and in the urine, unwanted molecules are added.
  • The filtrate moves down into the loop of Henle where there is the absorption of more water.
  • Filtrate moves up into the distal tubule and then to the collecting duct. From many nephrons, the collecting duct collects urine.
  • The urine formed in each kidney enters the ureter which is a long tube. It then gets transported to the urinary bladder and finally into the urethra.


Describe the Structure and Functioning of Nephrons

The nephron’s intricate structure and functioning enable the kidneys to filter blood, selectively reabsorb essential substances, and eliminate waste products. Thus, it helps maintain fluid balance, regulate electrolyte levels, and produce urine. The nephron also plays a role in maintaining the body’s acid-base balance by regulating the secretion of hydrogen ions and reabsorption of bicarbonate ions.

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