Bowman's capsule

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Bowman's capsule
Glomerulus. (Bowman's capsule not labeled, but visible at top.)
Glomerulus is red; Bowman's capsule is green.
Latin capsula glomeruli
Gray's subject #253 1222
Precursor Metanephric blastema
MeSH Bowman+Capsule
Dorlands/Elsevier c_07/12211408

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The Bowman's capsule(other names: capsula glomeruli, glomerular capsule) is a cup like sac at the beginning of the tubular component of a nephron in the mammalian kidney. A glomerulus is enclosed in the sac. Fluids from blood in the glomerulus are collected in the Bowman's capsule (i.e., glomerular filtrate) and further processed along the nephron to form urine. This process is known as ultrafiltration.


Outside the capsule, there are two "poles":

Inside the capsule, the layers are as follows, from outside to inside:

parietal layer A single layer of simple squamous epithelium. Does not function in filtration.
Bowman's space (or "urinary space", or "capsular space") Between the visceral and parietal layers, into which the filtrate enters after passing through the podocytes' filtration slits.[1]
visceral layer Lies just beneath the thickened glomerular basement membrane and is made of podocytes. Beneath the visceral layer lie the glomerular capillaries. See glomerulus#layers for more details.


The process of filtration of the blood in the Bowman's capsule is ultrafiltration (or glomerular filtration), and the normal rate of filtration is 125 ml/min, equivalent to ten times the blood volume daily.

Any proteins under roughly 30 kilodaltons can pass freely through the membrane, although there is some extra hindrance for negatively charged molecules due to the negative charge of the basement membrane and the podocytes.

Any small molecules such as water, glucose, salt (NaCl), amino acids, and urea pass freely into Bowman's space, but cells, platelets and large proteins do not.

As a result, the filtrate leaving the Bowman's capsule is very similar to blood plasma in composition as it passes into the proximal convoluted tubule.

Clinical significance

Measuring the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a diagnostic test of kidney function.

A decreased GFR may be a sign of renal failure.


Bowman's capsule is named after Sir William Bowman (1816-1892), a British surgeon and anatomist.

Together with the glomerulus it is known as a renal corpuscle, or a Malpighian corpuscle, named after Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694), an Italian physician and biologist. This name is not used widely anymore, probably to avoid confusion with a Malpighian corpuscle in the spleen.

See also

Additional images


  1. Histology image: 22401lba – Histology Learning System at Boston University

External links

id:Kapsula Bowman it:Capsula di Bowman nl:Kapsel van Bowman