countercurrent exchange

(redirected from Countercurrent exchange system)

countercurrent exchange

a biological mechanism designed to enable maximum exchange between two fluids. The mechanism's effect is dependent on the two fluids flowing in opposite directions, and having a concentration gradient between them.

fluid ONE

high concentration → low concentration

fluid TWO

high concentration ← low concentration

Such mechanisms occur, for example, in oxygen exchange between water and the blood vessels in fish gills, and in the ascending and descending tubules of the LOOP OF HENLE in the mammalian kidney.

Collins Dictionary of Biology, 3rd ed. © W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, J. P. Margham 2005