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Cortical Nephron
Kidney Lobe

Cortical Nephron

Nephronum corticale

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Quick Facts

The nephron is the anatomic and functional unit of the kidney, consisting of the renal corpuscle, the proximal convoluted tubule, the descending and ascending limbs of the loop of Henle, the distal convoluted tubule, and the collecting tubule (Dorland, 2011).

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Structure and/or Key Feature(s)

Cortical nephrons are characterized by their shorter nephron loops compared to the nephron loops of the juxtamedullary nephrons. The thin segments of the descending and ascending limbs of the tubules of cortical nephrons may be as short as 2 mm in length.

Anatomical Relations

Each nephron consists of a renal corpuscle and the associated renal tubule. In cortical nephrons, the renal corpuscle is located in the outer cortex of the kidney; their renal tubules are short and extend through the cortex and dip into the outer medulla. The nephron is surrounded by a complex network of capillaries which facilitate the functional reabsorption of water and salts into the bloodstream (Zhuo & Li, 2013).


The nephron is largely responsible for the filtration of blood, the reabsorption of water and salts, and the production of urine. Specific regions of the renal tubule of the nephron are responsible for reabsorbing different minerals.

List of Clinical Correlates

—Diabetic nephropathy


—Acute tubular necrosis

—Polycystic kidney disease


Dorland, W. (2011) Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd edn. Philadelphia, USA: Elsevier Saunders.

Zhuo, J. L. & Li, X. C. (2013) Proximal nephron. Comprehensive Physiology, 3(3), 1079-1123.

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