Glomerular Filtration Rate


Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the volume of fluid filtered from the renal (kidney) glomerular capillaries into the Bowman's capsule per unit time. Central to the physiologic maintenance of GFR is the differential basal tone of the afferent and efferent arterioles (see diagram). In other words, the filtration rate is dependent on the difference between the higher blood pressure created by vasoconstriction of the input or afferent arteriole versus the lower blood pressure created by lesser vasoconstriction of the output or efferent arteriole.

GFR is equal to the Clearance Rate when any solute is freely filtered and is neither reabsorbed nor secreted by the kidneys. The rate therefore measured is the quantity of the substance in the urine that originated from a calculable volume of blood. Relating this principle to the below equation – for the substance used, the product of urine concentration and urine flow equals the mass of substance excreted during the time that urine has been collected.

This mass equals the mass filtered at the glomerulus as nothing is added or removed in the nephron. Dividing this mass by the plasma concentration gives the volume of plasma which the mass must have originally come from, and thus the volume of plasma fluid that has entered Bowman's capsule within the aforementioned period of time. The GFR is typically recorded in units of volume per time, e.g., millilitres per minute (mL/min). Compare to filtration fraction.

GFR=   Urine concentration ×Urine Flow

                     Plasma Concentration

Measurement using inulin:

The GFR can be determined by injecting inulin or the inulin-analogue sinistrin into the blood stream. Since both inulin and sinistrin are neither reabsorbed nor secreted by the kidney after glomerular filtration, their rate of excretion is directly proportional to the rate of filtration of water and solutes across the glomerular filter. Compared to the MDRD formula, the inulin clearance slightly overestimates the glomerular function. In early stage renal disease, the inulin clearance may remain normal due to hyper filtration in the remaining nephrons. Incomplete urine collection is an important source of error in inulin clearance measurement.

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