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Am J Pathol. 2010 Feb;176(2):630-7. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090389. Epub 2009 Dec 24.

Remodeling of the fetal collecting duct epithelium.

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Child and Family Research Institute and Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6H 3V4.


Congenital urinary tract obstruction induces changes to the renal collecting duct epithelium, including alteration and depletion of intercalated cells. To study the effects of obstruction on the ontogeny of intercalated cell development, we examined normal and obstructed human fetal and postnatal kidneys. In the normal human fetal kidney, intercalated cells originated in the medullary collecting duct at 8 weeks gestation and remained most abundant in the inner medulla throughout gestation. In the cortex, intercalated cells were rare at 18 and 26 weeks gestation and observed at low abundance at 36 weeks gestation. Although early intercalated cells exhibit an immature phenotype, Type A intercalated cells predominated in the inner and outer medullae at 26 and 36 weeks gestation with other intercalated cell subtypes observed rarely. Postnatally, the collecting duct epithelium underwent a remodeling whereby intercalated cells become abundant in the cortex yet absent from the inner medulla. In 18-week obstructed kidneys with mild to moderate injury, the intercalated cells became more abundant and differentiated than the equivalent age-matched normal kidney. In contrast, more severely injured ducts of the late obstructed kidney exhibited a significant reduction in intercalated cells. These studies characterize the normal ontogeny of human intercalated cell development and suggest that obstruction induces premature remodeling and differentiation of the fetal collecting duct epithelium.

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