We have studied the role of afferent renal nerve fibres in anaesthetized cats in mediating the decrease in sodium and water excretion from the contralateral kidney caused by unilateral renal denervation. Transient denervation of one kidney obtained by cooling of the left renal nerves increases contralateral efferent renal nerve activity and decreased sodium and water excretion from the opposite kidney. The results observed in animals with intact neural pathways were compared with those obtained after the left kidney had been selectively deafferentated by cutting the dorsal roots from T9 to L4. Bilateral section of dorsal roots did not affect the increase in sodium and water excretion from the transiently denervated left kidney, but entirely abolished the decrease in sodium and water excretion from the contralateral kidney. Neither the left nor the right dorsal root section alone, affected the response of the contralateral right kidney.
Our data demonstrate that afferent renal nerve fibres project bilaterally to the spinal cord and form the afferent branch of the reno-renal reflex by which one kidney can control the function of the opposite one.
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