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Inhibition of cellular autophagy in proximal tubular cells of the kidney in streptozotocin-diabetic and uninephrectomized rats.

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Centro de Pesquisas Conçalo Moniz (FIOCRUZ), Bahia, Brazil.


To examine the significance of anti-catabolism in renal hypertrophy, cellular autophagy was investigated by electron microscopic morphometry in proximal tubular cells (PTCs) of the outer cortex of the rat kidney after the induction of diabetes mellitus by streptozotocin (STZ) and after unilateral nephrectomy. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three groups and killed by retrograde perfusion fixation, 1, 2 and 3 days after the induction of diabetes (group D; n = 24), after unilateral nephrectomy (group N; n = 24) and after combined treatment (group DN; n = 24). Untreated, age-matched litter mates served as controls (group C; n = 24). By comparison with these controls, the left kidney to initial body weight ratio was increased by 8, 23, and 15% in group D animals, by 8, 23, and 24% in group N animals, and by 10, 21, and 25% in group DN animals at the first, second and third day, respectively. Quantitative evaluation of large test areas showed that the volume and numerical densities of autophagic vacuoles (AVs) in PTCs were significantly lower in these hypertrophed kidneys than in the controls. The average reduction in AV volume density was about 65% in group D animals, about 50% in group N animals and about 75% in group DN animals. These data show that autophagic degradation of cytoplasmic components in PTCs is inhibited in renal hypertrophy independently of the growth stimulus, i.e. uninephrectomy or diabetes. Since insulin per se inhibits cellular autophagy in PTCs, the expected effect of insulin dificiency seems to be counteracted by as yet undefined stimuli that may be related to metabolic work load.

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