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Am J Pathol. 1997 Apr;150(4):1361-71.

Normal tubular regeneration and differentiation of the post-ischemic kidney in mice lacking vimentin.

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INSERM U 380, Institut Cochin de Génétique Moléculaire, Paris, France.


Proliferation and dedifferentiation of tubular cells are the hallmark of early regeneration after renal ischemic injury. Vimentin, a class III intermediate filament expressed only in mesenchymal cells of mature mammals, was shown to be transiently expressed in post-ischemic renal tubular epithelial cells. Vimentin re-expression was interpreted as a marker of cellular dedifferentiation, but its role in tubular regeneration after renal ischemia has also been hypothesized. This role was evaluated in mice bearing a null mutation of the vimentin gene. Expression of vimentin, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (a marker of cellular proliferation), and villin (a marker of differentiated brush-border membranes) was studied in wild-type (Vim+/+), heterozygous (Vim+/-), and homozygous (Vim-/-) mice subjected to transient ischemia of the left kidney. As expected, vimentin was detected by immunohistochemistry at the basal pole of proximal tubular cells from post-ischemic kidney in Vim+/+ and Vim+/- mice from day 2 to day 28. The expression of the reporter gene beta-galactosidase in Vim+/- and Vim-/- mice confirmed the tubular origin of vimentin. No compensatory expression of keratin could be demonstrated in Vim-/- mice. The intensity of proliferating cell nuclear antigen labeling and the pattern of villin expression were comparable in Vim-/-, Vim+/- and Vim+/+ mice at any time of the study. After 60 days, the structure of post-ischemic kidneys in Vim-/- mice was indistinguishable from that of normal non-operated kidneys in Vim+/+ mice. In conclusion, 1) the pattern of post-ischemic proximal tubular cell proliferation, differentiation, and tubular organization was not impaired in mice lacking vimentin and 2) these results suggest that the transient tubular expression of vimentin is not instrumental in tubular regeneration after renal ischemic injury.

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