A Nephridium (plural nephridia) is an invertebrate organ which occurs in pairs and function similar to kidneys. Nephridia remove metabolic wastes from an animal's body. They are present in many different invertebrate lines. There are two basic types, metanephridia and protonephridia, but there are other types.



A metanephridium ('meta' = after)(pl. metanephridia) is a type of excretory gland or nephridium found in many types of invertebrates such as Annelids, Arthropods and Molluscs. It typically consists of a ciliated funnel opening into the body cavity or coelom connected to a duct which may be variously glandularized, folded or expanded (vesiculate) and which typically opens to the organism's exterior. These ciliated tubules pump water carrying surplus ions, metabolic waste, toxins from food, and useless hormones out of the organism through openings known as nephrostomes. This waste is passed out of the body at the nephridiopore. The primary urine produced by filtration of blood (or a similar functioning fluid) is modified into secondary urine through selective reabsorption by the cells lining the metanephridium.

In many earthworms the nephridial ducts open into the digestive tract instead, a condition known as enteronephry.


A protonephridium ('proto' = first) is a network of dead-end tubules lacking internal openings found in the phyla Platyhelminthes, Nemertea and Rotifera. The ends are called flame cells (if cilliated) or solenocytes (if flagellated); they function in osmoregulation and ionoregulation. The terminal cells are located at the blind end of the protonephridium. Each cell has one or more cilia and their beating inside the protonephridial tube creates an outward going current and hence a partial pressurization in the blind of the tube. Because of this pressurization drives waste fluids from the inside of the animal, they are pulled through small perforations in the terminal cells and into the protonephridium. The perforations in the terminal cell are large enough for small molecules to pass, but larger proteins are retained within the animal. From the bottom of the protonephridium the solutes are led through the tube, formed by the canal cells, and exits the animal from a small opening formed by the nephridiopore. Selective reabsorption of useful molecules by the canal cells occurs as the solutes pass down the tubule. Protonephridia are generally found in basal organisms such as flatworms. Protonephridia likely first arose as a way to cope with a hypotonic environment by removing excess water from the organism (osmoregulation). Their use as excretory/ionoregulatory structures likely arose secondarily.

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  • Nephridium — Ne*phrid i*um, n.; pl. {Nephridia}. [NL., fr. Gr. ? of the kidneys.] (Zo[ o]l. & Anat.) A segmental tubule; one of the tubules of the primitive urinogenital organs; a segmental organ. See Illust. under {Loeven s larva}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nephridium — (n.) (pl. nephridia), 1877, Modern Latin, from Greek dim. of nephros kidney (see NEPHRON (Cf. nephron)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • nephridium — [nə frid′ē əm] n. pl. nephridia [nē frid′ēə, ni frid′ēə, ne frid′ēə] [ModL < Gr nephridion, dim. of nephros, kidney: see NEPHRO ] 1. a waste discharging tubule with an external excretory pore, found in many invertebrates, as in worms, mollusks …   English World dictionary

  • Nephridium — Als Nephridium (gr. nephros – Niere) bezeichnet man ein Organ zur Ausscheidung giftiger Abbauprodukte. Im Tierreich gibt es mehrere Typen von Nephridien: Protonephridien: Sie sind die einfachsten Ausscheidungsorgane und kommen hauptsächlich bei… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • nephridium — noun (plural nephridia) Etymology: New Latin Date: 1877 a tubular glandular excretory organ characteristic of various invertebrates • nephridial adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • nephridium — small excretory organs with flame cells found in invertebrates and Amphioxi …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • nephridium — n.; pl. ia [Gr. dim. nephros, kidney; L. ium, nature of] 1. In various invertebrates, simple or branched, tubular structures that function in excretion, opening to the outside through a nephridiopore; see protonephridium, metanephridium. 2.… …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • nephridium — nephridial, adj. /neuh frid ee euhm/, n., pl. nephridia / frid ee euh/. Zool. the excretory organ of many invertebrates, consisting of a tubule with one end opening into the body cavity and the other opening into a pore at the body surface. [1875 …   Universalium

  • nephridium — noun a) A tubular excretory organ in some invertebrates b) The embryonic excretory organ that developes into the kidney …   Wiktionary

  • nephridium — One of the paired, segmentally arranged excretory tubules of invertebrates such as the annelids. [G. nephros, kidney, + Mod. L. idium, dim. suffix, fr. G. idion] * * * ne·phrid·i·um ni frid ē əm n, pl ia ē ə an excretory organ that is… …   Medical dictionary

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