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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1932, from German nephron (1924), from Greek nephros "kidney," from PIE *negwhro- "kidney" (cognates: Latin nefrones, Old Norse nyra, Dutch nier, German Niere "kidney").


n. (context anatomy English) The basic structural and functional unit of the kidney, which filters the blood in order to regulate chemical concentrations, and thereby produces urine.


n. any of the small tubules that are the excretory units of the vertebrate kidney [syn: uriniferous tubule]


The nephron (from Greek νεφρός - nephros, meaning "kidney") is the basic structural and functional unit of the kidney. Its chief function is to regulate the concentration of water and soluble substances like sodium salts by filtering the blood, reabsorbing what is needed and excreting the rest as urine. A nephron eliminates wastes from the body, regulates blood volume and blood pressure, controls levels of electrolytes and metabolites, and regulates blood pH. Its functions are vital to life and are regulated by the endocrine system by hormones such as antidiuretic hormone, aldosterone, and parathyroid hormone. In humans, a normal kidney contains 800,000 to 1.5 million nephrons.

Usage examples of "nephron".

There is more than one type of nephron, but for our purpose we may assume they are all identical.

Essentially, the nephron filters out the solids and processes the fluids of the blood, where the wastes are.

What affects one nephron is likely to affect them all, and when the nephron shuts down, your body has no way to eliminate its waste products.

But sometimes the damage is limited, and the shutdown is only partial, or only a percentage of the nephrons are affected.

Since the body has an enormous overcapacity, you can lose as much as ninety percent of your nephrons, and suffer no ill effects.