The pressure and flow regulation in the individual functional unit of the kidney (the nephron) tends to operate in an unstable regime. For normal rats, the regulation displays regular self-sustained oscillations, but for rats with high blood pressure the oscillations become chaotic. We explain the mechanisms responsible for this behavior and discuss the involved bifurcations. Experimental data show that neighboring nephrons adjust their pressure and flow regulation in accordance with one another. For rats with normal blood pressure, in-phase as well as anti-phase synchronization can be observed. For spontaneously hypertensive rats, indications of chaotic phase synchronization are found. Accounting for a hermodynamics as well as for a vascular coupling between nephrons that share a common interlobular artery, we present a model of the interaction of the pressure and flow regulations between adjacent nephrons. It is shown that this model, with physiologically realistic parameter values, can reproduce the different types of experimentally observed synchronization, including multistability and partial phase synchronization with respect to the slow and fast dynamics.
Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, 2003, Vol 15, Issue 2, p. 343-369