THE LOOP OF HENLE AS THE MILESTONE OF MAMMALIAN KIDNEY CONCENTRATING ABILITY: A HISTORICAL REVIEW
The first description of the renal tubules is attributed to Lorenzo Bellini in 1662 and four years later Marcello Malpighi described the glomerulus. In 1842 Sir William Bowman described the capsule that surrounds the Malpighian body and its connection with the renal tubule and introduced the “excretory” hypothesis of urine formation. In the same year, Carl Ludwig introduced the “filtration-reabsorption” hypothesis of urine formation. Bowman’s hypothesis was accepted by the so-called “vitalists” and Ludwig’s hypothesis by the so-called “mechanists”. In the middle of this confliction, Jacob Henle described in 1862 the homonymous “U” shaped loop but his discovery has neglected. In 1942 Werner Kuhn, a physical chemist, proposed that the loop of Henle may be the natural analog of the hairpin countercurrent multiplication system which concentrates urine in mammalian kidneys. In 1951 Kuhn, Hargitay and Wirz showed experimentally that the loop of Henle was the most important part of the countercurrent multiplication system of urine-concentrating mechanism in mammalian kidneys. The new theory was accepted by English-speaking scientists later, in 1958, when Carl Gottschalk and Margaret Mylle published their experimental work and proved that Kuhn’s theory was correct. Gottschalk summarized the evidence of the accumulated knowledge in 1962, three centuries after the first description of renal tubules and one century after description of Henle’s loop.
Key words: Loop of Henle; urine formation mechanism; vitalists; mechanists; countercurrent multiplication system