Chronic kidney disease (CKD), as presently defined, is a common disorder. Aging is a nearly universal phenomenon that can affect renal anatomy and function, but at variable rates in individuals. Loss of nephrons and a decline in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a characteristic of normal aging, called renal senescence. Using fixed and absolute thresholds for defining CKD on the basis of GFR for all ages may lead to diagnostic uncertainty (a conundrum) in both young and older subjects. This brief review will consider the physiological and anatomical changes of the kidney occurring in the process of normal renal senescence focusing on GFR and will examine the relevance of these observation for the diagnosis of CKD using GFR as the distinguishing parameter. Once a better understanding of the pathobiology underlying renal senescence is obtained, specific interventions may become available to slow the process.
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