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EMERGENT LIFE SCIENCES RESEARCH - Vol 3, Issue 2, Published on 31, December 2017

Pages: 37-41
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Can sweat glands act as temporary or permanent replacement for the excretory function of kidney?

Author: Kenneth A. Agu

Category: Opinion


Uremic frost the powdery whitish substance, comprising urea and uric acid salts, on the skin of some patients with end stage kidney disease could be an attempt by the sweat glands to take over the function of the failing kidneys. Currently end stage kidney disease is managed mainly by hemodialysis and eventually kidney transplantation. Kidneys are primarily the organs for excretion of metabolic wastes. A normal kidney contains 800,000 to 1.5 million nephrons. This excretory function, which is essential for life, consists of filtration and selective reabsorption / secretion to produce urine. The major nitrogenous waste in urine is urea. The sweat glands are basically organs of thermoregulation. However, they are also involved in excretion of metabolic wastes. The total number of sweat glands lies between 1.6 and 4.5 million.

There are anatomical and physiological similarities between the nephron the functional unit of the kidney and the sweat gland. This article proposes a functional similarity between the two. Anatomically, the sweat gland bears some resemblance to the nephron. A nephron has 2 basic components, the glomerulus and the tubules. Similarly, the sweat gland has a secretory unit consisting of a base rolled into a glomerulus, and a duct that carries the sweat away. Both the kidneys and the sweat glands excrete nitrogenous wastes, water and electrolytes. They are also involved in maintaining acid-base balance. The hypothesis is that the skin, via the sweat glands, constitutes an alternative excretory organ to the kidneys, though probably minor, and thus could act as temporary or permanent replacement for the kidneys.

Keywords: excretion, nephron, sweat gland