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Outer Zone of Renal Cortex
Kidney Lobe

Outer Zone of Renal Cortex

Zone externa corticis renalis

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Quick Facts

The renal cortex is the outer part of the substance of the kidney, composed mainly of glomeruli and convoluted tubules; it is continuous with the renal columns, which are also composed of cortical tissue (Dorland, 2011).

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Structure and/or Key Features

The renal cortex is described as the highly vascularized, smooth, outer portion of the kidney. The renal corpuscles of the nephrons are located in the renal cortex. The cortex is subsequently divided into the outer and inner cortex depending on the distribution of the renal corpuscles (Zhang, 1999). Nephrons with their renal corpuscles located in the outer cortex are typically known as cortical nephrons.

Anatomical Relations

The outer cortex lies directly beneath the fibrous capsule and surrounds and encases the inner cortex and the renal medulla.


Both the outer and inner cortex contribute to ultrafiltration, fluid balance regulation, and the production of the red blood cell synthesizing hormone, erythropoietin (Pocock et al, 2013).


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

Pocock, G., Richards, C. D. & Richards, D. A. (2013) Human Physiology, 4 edition. OUP Oxford.

Zhang, S. X. (1999) An Atlas of HistologySpringer.

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