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Organogenesis. 2010 Jul-Sep;6(3):189-94.

The relationship between nephron number, kidney size and body weight in two inbred mouse strains.

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Department of Pediatrics, and Human Genetics, McGill University Health Center, McGill University, Quebec, Canada.


While some reports in humans have shown that nephron number is positively correlated with height, body weight or kidney weight, other studies have not reproduced these findings. To understand the impact of genetic and environmental variation on these relationships, we examined whether nephron number correlates with body weight, kidney planar surface area, or kidney weight in two inbred mouse strains with contrasting kidney sizes but no overt renal pathology: C3H/HeJ and C57BL/6J. C3H/HeJ mice had smaller kidneys at birth and larger kidneys by adulthood, however there was no significant difference in nephron number between the two strains. We did observe a correlation between kidney size and body weight at birth and at adulthood for both strains. However, there was no relationship between nephron number and body weight or between nephron number and kidney size. From other studies, it appears that a greater than two-fold variation is required in each of these parameters in order to demonstrate these relationships, suggesting they are highly dependent on scale. Our results are therefore not surprising since there was a less than two-fold variation in each of the parameters examined. In summary, the relationship between nephron number and body or kidney size is most likely to be demonstrated when there is greater phenotypic variation either from genetic and/or environmental factors.


B6; C3H; birth weight; hypertrophy; inbred; kidney size; mouse; nephron number

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