Role of renal innervation for the kidneys

Medicine 4

Head of Department:
Prof. Dr. med. Mario Schiffer
Team AG Veelken (f.l.t.r.): Roland Veelken, Tilmann Ditting, Sonja Loosen, Martin Hindermann, Peter Linz
Intrarenal autonomous nerve fibers in the vicinity of blood vessels and renal tubuli (sympathetic nerve fibers: green staining, afferent nerve fibers: red staining , yellow- and light green: co-localisation of afferent and sympathetic nerve fibers)

On the one hand our group investigates neurons of the autonomous nervous system that do have connections to the kidney in vivo, with electrophysiological techniques (patch clamp) to study functional aspect on the cellular level. On the other hand, we conduct neurophysiologic experiments in vivo to investigate the role of renal innervation for the kidneys and the whole organism with direct recordings of renal nerves.

The autonomous innervation of the kidney influences the function of the organ in many respects, furthermore renal nerves modulate the neural regulation of the circulation which on the other hand is able to control renal nerve activity via neurogenic mechanisms itself. Increased sympathetic nerve activity enhances salt and water reabsorption in the renal tubuli and augments renin release in the kidney. Furthermore, afferent neural pathways from the kidney influence sympathetic outlow to all organs of the circulation. Eventually, the autonomous innervation of the kidney plays an important role in the pathogenesis of hypertension and volume retaining disorders. In addition, afferent renal nerve fibers are able to secrete pro-inflammatory substances that worsen immunologic and inflammatory processes like in nephritis further aggravated by increased sympathetic nerve activity to the kidneys.

Hence, in our laboratory investigations include healthy organisms as well as experimental projects in hypertension, volume retaining disorders, inflammatory renal disease, sepsis and acute renal failure.

Group leader
Prof. Dr. med. Roland Veelken
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PD Dr. med. Tilmann Ditting
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Dr. med. Kristina Rodionova
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Graduate students

Christine Heberlein
Martin Hindermann
Stefan Karl
Martin Ziemer


Sonja Heinlein
Astrid Ziegler