Why renal cysts grow

Kenneth D. Gardner, Robert H. Glew, Andrew P. Evan, James A. Mcateer, Jay Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


The growth of renal cysts leads to morbidity, contributes to mortality, and is a lesson in applied physiology. The fact that chemical, electrical, osmotic, and hydrostatic driving forces determine cyst volumes is inferred from observations that cyst fluids vary in their concentrations of osmotically active substances. Most have concentrations of sodium-based salts that are lower and nonsodium-based salts that are higher than those present in normal plasma. Nonsodium solutes include osmolytes that normally are present in higher concentrations inside of cells, including potassium, amino acids, and so-called idiogenic osmoles. The basic process of cyst growth therefore involves 1) the osmotic equilibration of water across cysts walls that have variable permeability characteristics and 2) the replacement of sodium salts with other osmotically active solutes in cyst fluids. Cyst volume is governed by the amounts and kinds of osmolytes that enter and become entrapped in lumina. Proliferation and necrosis of mural cells are events that are fundamental to the growth of renal cysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F253-F359
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994


  • Cyst fluid
  • Cyst growth
  • Cyst wall
  • Kidney cyst
  • Nonsodium solute
  • Osmolyte
  • Sodium solute

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology

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    Gardner, K. D., Glew, R. H., Evan, A. P., Mcateer, J. A., & Bernstein, J. (1994). Why renal cysts grow. American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology, 266(3), F253-F359.