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Biogerontology. 2007 Oct;8(5):505-15. Epub 2007 Apr 24.

Age-related change of endocytic receptors megalin and cubilin in the kidney in rats.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toho University, 2-2-1 Miyama, Funabashi, Chiba 274-8510, Japan.


Megalin and cubilin are the major endocytic receptors responsible for resorption of glomerular filtrate proteins, particularly albumin, in the renal proximal tubule. In order to better understand the mechanism of the development of albuminuria with age in rats, we investigated age-related change of the amount and cellular localization of both receptors in the kidney. Immunoblot analysis of the kidney extracts showed that the amount of megalin significantly decreased with age. Although there was no age-related change in the amount of intact cubilin, the amount of cubilin fragments increased with age. Immunohistochemical study revealed that megalin and cubilin were predominantly localized in brush border membrane of proximal tubular cells in young rats, but the receptors tended to diffuse into the cytoplasm in the old rats. Interestingly, low but significant amounts of megalin and cubilin were present in the glomerular cells in addition to the proximal tubular cells. The quantity of receptors progressively increased in the glomerulus with age. This age-related increase might be to compensate for the age-related defect of the uptake of albumin by the proximal tubules. Thus, although it is unclear whether megalin and cubilin in the glomerulus contribute to the uptake of albumin in primary urine, the age-related increase in the amount of albumin in urine might at least partly be due to quantitative and qualitative alterations of both receptors in the proximal tubule.

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