To investigate human glomerular structure under conditions of physiological perfusion, we have analyzed fresh and perfusion-fixed normal human glomeruli at physiological hydrostatic and oncotic pressures using serial resin section reconstruction, confocal, multiphoton, and electron microscope imaging. Afferent and efferent arterioles (21.5 ± 1.2 µm and 15.9 ± 1.2 µm diameter), recognized from vascular origins, lead into previously undescribed wider regions (43.2 ± 2.8 µm and 38.4 ± 4.9 µm diameter) we have termed vascular chambers (VCs) embedded in the mesangium of the vascular pole. Afferent VC (AVC) volume was 1.6-fold greater than efferent VC (EVC) volume. From the AVC, long nonbranching high-capacity conduit vessels ( n = 7) (Con; 15.9 ± 0.7 µm diameter) led to the glomerular edge, where branching was more frequent. Conduit vessels have fewer podocytes than filtration capillaries. VCs were confirmed in fixed and unfixed specimens with a layer of banded collagen identified in AVC walls by multiphoton and electron microscopy. Thirteen highly branched efferent first-order vessels (E1; 9.9 ± 0.4 µm diameter) converge on the EVC, draining into the efferent arteriole (15.9 ± 1.2 µm diameter). Banded collagen was scarce around EVCs. This previously undescribed branching topology does not conform to the branching of minimum energy expenditure (Murray's law), suggesting that even distribution of pressure/flow to the filtration capillaries is more important than maintaining the minimum work required for blood flow. We propose that AVCs act as plenum manifolds possibly aided by vortical flow in distributing and balancing blood flow/pressure to conduit vessels supplying glomerular lobules. These major adaptations to glomerular capillary structure could regulate hemodynamic pressure and flow in human glomerular capillaries.
PMID: 30388047 [PubMed - in process]