Tubuloglomerular feedback (TGF) has an important role in autoregulation of renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Because of the characteristics of signal transmission in the feedback loop, the TGF undergoes self-sustained oscillations in single-nephron blood flow, GFR, and tubular pressure and flow. Nephrons interact by exchanging electrical signals conducted electrotonically through cells of the vascular wall, leading to synchronization of the TGF-mediated oscillations. Experimental studies of these interactions have been limited to observations on two or at most three nephrons simultaneously. The interacting nephron fields are likely to be more extensive. We have turned to laser speckle contrast imaging to measure the blood flow dynamics of 50-100 nephrons simultaneously on the renal surface of anesthetized rats. We report the application of this method and describe analytic techniques for extracting the desired data and for examining them for evidence of nephron synchronization. Synchronized TGF oscillations were detected in pairs or triplets of nephrons. The amplitude and the frequency of the oscillations changed with time, as did the patterns of synchronization. Synchronization may take place among nephrons not immediately adjacent on the surface of the kidney.
American Journal of Physiology: Renal Physiology, 2011, Vol 300, Issue 2