Key messages

• Although comprising only 0.5 per cent of total body weight, the kidneys receive between 20 and 25 per cent of the cardiac output.

• Renal blood flow is mostly directed to the cortex to optimize glomerular filtration and bulk solute reabsorption. In contrast, blood flow to the renal medulla is low to preserve osmotic gradients and to enhance urinary concentration.

• A decline in glomerular filtration rate diminishes sodium filtration and excretion, while catecholamines augment proximal tubule sodium reabsorption.

• Approximately 180 liters of water are filtered daily through the glomeruli, of which roughly 1 per cent (2 liters) is normally excreted.

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