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      Quantitative Morphology of Renal Cortical Structures during Compensatory Hypertrophy

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          The compensatory hypertrophy in different renal cortical structures was studied in rats 10 and 21 days after unilateral nephrectomy (UNX). Quantitative morphological/stereological analysis revealed significant increases in total renal cortical volume – 33% on day 10 and 48% on day 21 – after UNX. These changes were paralleled by significant increments in the volumes of proximal convoluted tubule (PCT, 55%), distal convoluted tubule (DCT, 114%), and cortical collecting duct (CCD, 106%) segments on day 10. The corresponding changes on day 21 were 76, 122, and 212%, respectively. These alterations were accompanied by increases in segment length; 3% PCT, 23% DCT, and 50% CCD on day 10 and 9% PCT, 30% DCT, and 142% CCD on day 21 after UNX. The total luminal and basolateral cell membrane surface areas also exhibited a time-dependent increase after UNX. The increments in both luminal and basolateral membrane domains in PCT and DCT after 10 days were not significant, but reached significance after 21 days (PCT: luminal membrane 21%, basolateral membrane 63%; DCT: luminal membrane 98%, basolateral membrane 63%). In contrast, CCD membrane areas had increased substantially already 10 days after UNX (luminal membrane 92%, basolateral membrane 71%). It declined subsequently by day 21 (luminal membrane 57%, basolateral membrane 32%). The cell rubidium concentration after a 30-second rubidium infusion, an index of Na-K-ATPase activity, as well as sodium concentrations were unaltered in cells of all nephron segments investigated. Altogether the stereological analysis shows that the compensatory increase in organ volume can be attributed primarily to an increase in nephron epithelial volume. The PCT responds with ‘radial’ hypertrophy (thickening of the tubular epithelial wall), while the DCT undergoes ‘length’ hypertrophy (increase of tubular length without thickening of the tubular wall and without an increase in number of cells). This type of hypertrophy is especially prominent on day 21 after UNX for the CCD which doubles in length. Only on day 10 does the CCD seem to respond with hyperplasia. Adaptive changes in response to UNX develop gradually. Only a few of the morphological parameters studied had completed their change by 10 days, the majority required longer.

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          Author and article information

          Nephron Exp Nephrol
          Cardiorenal Medicine
          S. Karger AG
          August 1998
          15 July 1998
          : 6
          : 4
          : 308-319
          a Institute of Physiology, University of Innsbruck, Austria; b Department of Medicine, Kidney Centre, Tokyo Women’s Medical College, Tokyo, Japan; c Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., USA; d Institute of Physiology, University of Munich, Germany
          20538 Exp Nephrol 1998;6:308–319
          © 1998 S. Karger AG, Basel

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