Q. I have a question. Why do you see a decreased glomerular filtration rate in nephritic syndrome? I read on your blog and other places that it’s due to “hemodynamic changes”– from Robbins I’m assuming this is compensatory stuff- but wouldn’t that increase GFR?

A. It’s because of what’s going on in the glomerulus! In a normal glomerulus, the capillaries are all nice and open and patent. Blood flows through the capillaries like a little river, fluid gets filtered out into the urinary space, and the GFR is normal. But in nephritic syndrome, the glomeruli are stuffed full of cells, and blood flow slows way down.

Take a look at post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, a common cause of nephritic syndrome. In that disorder, the glomeruli are huge and hypercellular, with tons of neutrophils in there (and probably some other proliferating glomerular cells as well). The poor capillaries are compressed by all that extra stuff, and you can imagine how hard it is for the poor blood to flow through there! If the blood can’t flow through at the same rate, then the filtration of fluid from blood into urine is decreased (and the GFR slows down to a sad little dribble).

Nice water drop: John “K”