Signal transduction in a compliant thick ascending limb.
In several previous studies, we used a mathematical model of the thick ascending limb (TAL) to investigate nonlinearities in the tubuloglomerular feedback (TGF) loop. That model, which represents the TAL as a rigid tube, predicts that TGF signal transduction by the TAL is a generator of nonlinearities: if a sinusoidal oscillation is added to constant intratubular fluid flow, the time interval required for an element of tubular fluid to traverse the TAL, as a function of time, is oscillatory and periodic but not sinusoidal. As a consequence, NaCl concentration in tubular fluid alongside the macula densa will be nonsinusoidal and thus contain harmonics of the original sinusoidal frequency. We hypothesized that the complexity found in power spectra based on in vivo time series of key TGF variables arises in part from those harmonics and that nonlinearities in TGF-mediated oscillations may result in increased NaCl delivery to the distal nephron. To investigate the possibility that a more realistic model of the TAL would damp the harmonics, we have conducted new studies in a model TAL that has compliant walls and thus a tubular radius that depends on transmural pressure. These studies predict that compliant TAL walls do not damp, but instead intensify, the harmonics. In addition, our results predict that mean TAL flow strongly influences the shape of the NaCl concentration waveform at the macula densa. This is a consequence of the inverse relationship between flow speed and transit time, which produces asymmetry between up- and downslopes of the oscillation, and the nonlinearity of TAL NaCl absorption at low flow rates, which broadens the trough of the oscillation relative to the peak. The dependence of waveform shape on mean TAL flow may be the source of the variable degree of distortion, relative to a sine wave, seen in experimental recordings of TGF-mediated oscillations.
Layton, AT; Moore, LC; Layton, HE
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