Give a brief account of the counter current mechanism.


Give a brief account of the counter current mechanism.


The counter current mechanism operating inside the kidney is the main adaptation for the conservation of water. There are two counter current mechanisms inside the kidneys. They are Henle’s loop and vasa rectae.

Henle’s loop is a U-shaped part of the nephron. Blood flows in the two limbs of the tube in opposite directions and this gives rise to counter currents. The Vasa recta is an efferent arteriole, which forms a capillary network around the tubules inside the renal medulla. It runs parallel to Henley’s loop and is U-shaped. Blood flows in opposite directions in the two limbs of vasa recta. As a result, blood entering the renal medulla in the descending limb comes in close contact with the outgoing blood in the ascending limb.

The osmolarity increases from 300 mOsmolL -1 in the cortex to 1200 mOsmolL -1 in the inner medulla by counter current mechanism. It helps in maintaining the concentration gradient, which in turn helps in easy movement of water from collecting tubules. The gradient is a result of the movement of NaCl and urea.

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