Renal System - Fetal

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Renal Links: renal | Lecture - Renal | Lecture Movie | urinary bladder | Stage 13 | Stage 22 | Fetal | Renal Movies | Stage 22 Movie | renal histology | renal abnormalities | Molecular | Category:Renal
Historic Embryology - Renal  
1907 Urogenital images | 1911 Cloaca | 1921 Urogenital Development | 1915 Renal Artery | 1917 Urogenital System | 1925 Horseshoe Kidney | 1926 Embryo 22 Somites | 1930 Mesonephros 10 to 12 weeks | 1931 Horseshoe Kidney | 1932 Renal Absence | 1939 Ureteric Bud Agenesis | 1943 Renal Position

Note that much of the development of the nephron occurs during the fetal period. The images below show the early fetal post-fertilization age (Week 10) (gestational age (GA Week 12) renal development. The nephron commences as a mesenchymal condensation that becomes epithelial going through a number of specific stages including later vascularization.

In humans, nephrogenesis only occurs before birth, though nephron maturation continues postnatally. Mean glomerular number shown to level at 36 weeks, increasing from about 15,000 at 15 weeks to 740,000 at 40 weeks.

Nephron development has four identifiable developmental stages:

  1. Vesicle (V) stage (13-19 weeks, second trimester)
  2. S-shaped body (S) stage ( 20-24 weeks, second trimester)
  3. Capillary loop (C) stage (25-29 weeks, third trimester)
  4. Maturation (M) stage (infants aged 1-6 months, neonatal and postnatal)

Some Recent Findings

More recent papers
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This table shows an automated computer PubMed search using the listed sub-heading term.

  • Therefore the list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
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Search term: Fetal Renal

Patricia Genovese, Emiliano Herrera, Victoria Riaño, Alejandro Bielli Subnutrition Effects During Pregnancy and Lactation on Mitosis, Apoptosis, and Androgen Receptor Expression in the Rat Testis. Reprod. Domest. Anim.: 2018; PubMed 30499612

Siamak Kazemi-Darabadi, Ghasem Akbari Evaluation of magnesium sulfate effects on fetus development in experimentally induced surgical fetal growth restriction in rat. J. Matern. Fetal. Neonatal. Med.: 2018;1-141 PubMed 30486703

Mark Hann, Stephen A Roberts, Stephen W D'Souza, Peter Clayton, Nick Macklon, Daniel R Brison The growth of assisted reproductive treatment-conceived children from birth to 5 years: a national cohort study. BMC Med: 2018, 16(1);224 PubMed 30482203

Masood Bazrgar, Hamid Gourabi, Anis Karimpour-Fard, Parnaz Borjian Boroujeni, Khadije Anisi, Bahar Movaghar, Mojtaba Rezazadeh Valojerdi Origins of Intraindividual Genetic Variation in Human Fetuses. Reprod Sci: 2018;1933719118808919 PubMed 30453833

Lushan Li, Fang Fu, Ru Li, Zequn Liu, Can Liao Prenatal diagnosis and pregnancy outcome analysis of thickened nuchal fold in the second trimester. Medicine (Baltimore): 2018, 97(46);e13334 PubMed 30431620

Fetal Histology

Human fetal kidney histology 01.jpg Human fetal kidney histology 02.jpg
Human fetal kidney histology 03.jpg Human fetal kidney histology 04.jpg
Fetal Renal Links: fetal kidney histology 01 | fetal kidney histology 02 | fetal kidney histology 03 | fetal kidney histology 04

Fetal Urethra Histology

These images are a series of cross-sections through the fetal penis showing the developing urethra.

Fetal to Newborn Nephron Development

Fetal nephron development 01.jpg

After nephron development has completed and concomitant with the development of the renal papilla in the newborn, the thin ascending limb of Henle’s loops is generated as an outgrowth from the S3 segment of the proximal tubule and from the distal tubule anlage of the nephron.[1] (birds and mammals)

Kidney Endocrine
Hormone Function Comment
Renin increase angiotensin-aldosterone system paracrine, renin is released by juxtaglomerular cells
Prostaglandins decrease sodium (Na+) reabsorption paracrine, (PGE2) vasodilator regulate renal vascular reactivity
Erythropoietin increase Erythrocyte production endocrine, promotes red blood cell formation in bone marrow
1,25 (OH)2 vitamin D Calcium homeostasis endocrine, biologically active form of vitamin D
Prekallikreins increase Kinin production paracrine, act locally to induce vasodilation and contraction of smooth muscle


  1. Paola Romagnani, Laura Lasagni, Giuseppe Remuzzi Renal progenitors: an evolutionary conserved strategy for kidney regeneration. Nat Rev Nephrol: 2013, 9(3);137-46 PubMed 23338209

Online Textbooks


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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2018, December 11) Embryology Renal System - Fetal. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2018, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G