What is the significance of juxtaglomerular apparatus (JGA) in kidney function?
Juxtaglomerular apparatus (JGA) is a complex structure made up of a few cells of glomerulus, distal tubule, and afferent and efferent arterioles. It is located in a specialised region of a nephron, wherein the afferent arteriole and the distal convoluted tubule (DLT) come in direct contact with each other.
The juxtaglomerular apparatus contains specialised cells of the afferent arteriole known as juxtaglomerular cells. These cells contain the enzyme renin that can sense blood pressure. When glomerular blood flow (or glomerular blood pressure or glomerular filtration rate) decreases, it activates juxtaglomerular cells to release renin.
Renin converts the angiotensinogen in blood into angiotensin I and further into angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is a powerful vasoconstrictor that increases the glomerular blood pressure and filtration rate. Angiotensin II also stimulates the adrenal cortex of the adrenal gland to produce aldosterone. Aldosterone increases the rate of absorption of sodium ions and water from the distal convoluted tubule and the collecting duct. This also leads to an increase in blood pressure and glomerular filtration rate. This mechanism, known as renin-angiotensin mechanism, ultimately leads to an increased blood pressure.