Juxtaglomerular cells secrete renin in response to a drop in pressure detected by stretch receptors in the vascular walls, or when stimulated by macula densa cells. Macula densa cells are located in the distal convoluted tubule, and stimulate juxtaglomerular cells to release renin when they detect a drop in sodium concentration in tubular fluid. Together, juxtaglomerular cells, extraglomerular mesangial cells and macula densa cells comprise the juxtaglomerular complex.
In appropriately stained tissue sections, juxtaglomerular cells are distinguished by their granulated cytoplasm.
Similar to cardiac tissue, juxtaglomerular cells harbor β1 adrenergic receptors. When stimulated by epinephrine or norepinephrine, these receptors induce the secretion of renin. These cells also respond directly to a decrease in systemic blood pressure which is manifested as a lower renal perfusion pressure.