Key Difference – Nephron vs Neuron
Nephron and neuron are two important structures of our body. The key difference between nephron and neuron is that nephron is the structural and functional unit of kidney whereas neuron is the basic functional unit of the nervous system.
The kidney is one of the main organs in our body that filters blood and excretes urine, wastes and extra fluids from our body. The basic functional unit or the filter of the kidney is known as nephron. There are around a million of nephrons in one kidney. The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages from the brain and spinal cord to all over the body parts. Nerve cell or neuron is the basic structural and functional unit of the nervous system. Neurons communicate within the body by transmitting electrochemical signals.
What is Nephron?
Nephron is the basic functional unit of the kidney or the excretory system. Nephron is made up of many cells. The main function of the nephron is the filtration of blood and produce urine with the purpose of removing waste and extra fluid from the body. There are over a million of nephrons in one kidney.
The nephron is composed of two major parts namely renal corpuscle and a renal tubule. Renal corpuscle consists of glomerulus and Bowman’s capsule. Afferent arteriole enters to the renal corpuscle with blood filled with waste and unnecessary chemicals. Glomerulus filters fluid and waste into the capsule without letting blood cells and necessary molecules to leave the blood. Efferent arteriole leaves the glomerulus with filtered blood.
Renal tubule starts from the capsule, and the first part of the renal tubule is known as proximal convoluted tubule. Then the special area called Henle loop runs and enters into the second part of the renal tubule known as distal convoluted tubule. Useful substances are reabsorbed into the blood from the renal tubule. Many distal convoluted tubules connect into a single collecting duct, and it excretes urine and waste from the body.
What is Neuron?
A neuron is also known as nerve cell is the structural and functional unit of the nervous system. There are billions of nerve cells in our body. They transmit electrochemical signals from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to various parts of the body. A neuron is a single cell composed of three basic parts namely axon, dendrites, and cell body. Neuron differs from other cells due to its cellular processes that run from the cell body. The cell body contains a nucleus, mitochondria and other cellular organelles.
Dendrites receive the action potential and handover to the axon to transmit to the second or the target neuron. Neurons are not physically connected with each other. They connect via special structures called synapse. Using neurotransmitters (small molecules known as chemical messengers), neurons transmit signals from one neuron to the nest. There are three types of neurons namely, sensory neuron, motor neuron and interneuron.
What are the Similarities Between Nephron and Neuron?
- Both Nephron and Neuron are basic units of two major organ systems.
- Both are microscopic structures.
- Both are made up of different parts which are working collectively for the main.
- Both Nephron and Neuron are functional units.
What is the Difference Between Nephron and Neuron?
Nephron vs Neuron
|Nephron is the basic structural and functional unit of the kidney.||Neuron is the basic unit of the nervous system.|
|Number of Cells|
|One nephron is made up of many cells.||Neuron is a single cell.|
|Nephron filters the blood and produces urine.||Neuron transmits nerve impulses.|
|Nephron is composed of the renal corpuscle, tubules, Henle loop and arterioles.||Neuron is composed of dendrites, cell body and axon.|
|Conduction of the Action Potential|
|Nephron cannot conduct an action potential.||Neuron can conduct an action potential.|
|Communication Between Cells|
|Nephron cannot communicate between cells.||Neuron can communicate with other neurons.|
|Waste Removal from the Body|
|Nephron removes waste from our body.||Neuron cannot remove waste from our body.|
|In a Healthy Adult|
|Healthy adult has approximately 0.8 to 1.5 nephrons in each kidney.||Healthy adult has billions of neurons.|
|Nephron is involved with urine production.||Neuron is not involved in urine production.|
|Nephrons are two types: cortical nephrons and juxtamedullary nephrons.||Neurons are three types: sensory neurons, motor neurons and interneurons.|
|Nephron does not contain myelin sheaths.||Many neurons have myelin sheath around their axons for the rapid signal transmission.|
Summary – Nephron vs Neuron
Basic functional units of kidney and nervous system are known as nephron and neuron respectively. Nephron and neuron are two different structures. The nephron is composed of many cells while neuron is a single cell. The nephron is composed of a renal corpuscle and renal tubule while neuron is composed of dendrites, soma and axon. This is the difference between nephron and neuron.
1.“Nervous System: Explore the Nerves with Interactive Anatomy Pictures.” Innerbody. Available here
2.Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Neuron.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 8 Dec. 2017. Available here
3.“Nephron: The Functioning Unit of The Kidney.” Interactive Biology, with Leslie Samuel, 16 Jan. 2017. Available here