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Analysis of a simplified model of the urine concentration mechanism

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  • We study a nonlinear stationary system of transport equations with specific boundary conditions describing the transport of solutes dissolved in a fluid circulating in a countercurrent tubular architecture, which constitutes a simplified model of a kidney nephron. We prove that for every Lipschitz and monotonic nonlinearity (which stems from active transport across the ascending limb), the dynamic system, a PDE which we study through contraction properties, relaxes toward the unique stationary state. A study of the linearized stationary operator enables us, using eigenelements, to further show that under certain conditions regarding the nonlinearity, the relaxation is exponential. We also describe a finite volume scheme which allows us to efficiently approach the numerical solution to the stationary system. Finally, we apply this numerical method to illustrate how the countercurrent arrangement of tubes enhances the axial concentration gradient, thereby favoring the production of highly concentrated urine.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: 35L60, 92C35, 34B45.


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