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Kidney Int. 1992 Jul;42(1):148-60.

Glomerular damage after uninephrectomy in young rats. II. Mechanical stress on podocytes as a pathway to sclerosis.

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Institut für Anatomie und Zellbiologie Universität Heidelberg, Germany.


In a preceding study [1], we showed that within six months after UNX in young rats, glomeruli in the remnant kidney undergo a sequence of serious changes which finally lead to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FGS). The formation of abnormally-shaped capillary channels was shown to result from local mesangial failure and is considered to be a nidus for the development of more severe lesions. In the present paper, the development of characteristic lesions in podocyte structure is described and analyzed. Concomitant with overall glomerular growth after UNX, a pronounced hypertrophy of podocytes was observed, while the mean number of podocytes per glomerulus did not change. It appears that podocytes cannot sustain the same degree of growth as the tuft as a whole; podocyte hypertrophy is soon followed by maladaptive changes which eventually lead to cell destruction. The following sequence of pathologic changes can be suggested: cell bodies enlarge in volume and area associated with a dramatic attenuation to cytoplasmic sheets. Primary processes are thinned out and frequently extend to remote capillaries. As a whole, the capillary area served by a single podocyte is dramatically enlarged. Furthermore, the expanding cytoplasmic sheets (derived from podocyte cell bodies) cover an increasingly large proportion of the outer capillary surface, that is, of the filtration area. Consequently, an increasing amount of filtrate is delivered into the subcellbody space. Obstruction of the efflux of this filtrate into the urinary space causes bulging of the overlying cytoplasmic sheets into pseudocysts. Podocytes overlying abnormally-shaped and dilated capillary channels are generally the most seriously affected. Tuft hypertrophy, pseudocyst formation and local capillary expansion cause wide-spread apposition of podocytes to Bowman's capsule. Appositions are a prerequisite for the development of tuft adhesion. Local detachment of a podocyte from the GBM in those areas allows access of parietal cells to the GBM. In early adhesions the connection of the tuft to Bowman's capsule is established by single parietal cells which attach to both the GBM and the basement membrane of Bowman's capsule. An adhesion is considered as a nidus for segmental sclerosis; as the adhesion progresses, the related tuft regions turn into sclerosis. In the present model FGS develops exclusively in areas of tuft adhesion.

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