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J Pathol. 1998 Apr;184(4):430-5.

Tuft-to-capsule adhesions and their precursors: differences between the vascular and tubular poles of the human glomerulus.

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University of Glasgow Department of Pathology, Western Infirmary, U.K.


Human glomerular capillary tufts were removed by microdissection and scanning electron microscopy was used to examine the surface of the capillary tuft and the interior of its Bowman's capsule in order to identify connections between the tuft and capsule. Glomeruli were examined in histologically normal renal cortex from 12 kidneys removed for tumour and 12 renal allografts removed for end-stage rejection. In normal kidney, the glomerular tuft was connected to Bowman's capsule by single podocytes and their processes. At the vascular pole, these were predominantly associated with parietal podocytes which lined Bowman's capsule. At the tubular pole, occasional podocytic processes derived from the capillary tuft bridged Bowman's space and connected to Bowman's capsule where there were no parietal podocytes. These podocytic connections were also found in all rejected transplants, but in addition adhesions were identified which consisted of thicker connections between the tuft and capsule. At the vascular pole, tuft-to-capsule adhesions were found in all 12 kidneys; these were always associated with parietal podocytes. Tubular pole adhesions were identified in ten of the 12 transplants. They were associated with abnormal squamous cells, but not with parietal podocytes. When the capillary tuft herniated into the proximal tubule, the tuft sometimes formed an adhesion with the origin of the proximal tubule. These observations suggest that podocyte connections between the glomerular tuft and Bowman's capsule may be precursors of glomerular adhesions at the vascular pole. Since tuft-to-capsule adhesions at the vascular pole differ morphologically from those at the tubular pole, this may reflect different pathogenetic mechanisms at the opposite poles of the glomerulus.

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