Cell proliferation in the loop of Henle in the developing rat kidney

J. H. Cha, Y. H. Kim, J. Y. Jung, K. H. Han, K. M. Madsen, J. Kim

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44 Scopus citations


In the developing rat kidney, there is no separation of the medulla into an outer and inner zone. At the time of birth, ascending limbs with immature distal tubule epithelium are present throughout the renal medulla, all loops of Henle resemble the short loop of adult animals, and there are no ascending thin limbs. It was demonstrated previously that immature thick ascending limbs in the renal papilla are transformed into ascending thin limbs by apoptotic deletion of cells and transformation of the remaining cells into a thin squamous epithelium. However, it is not known whether this is the only source of ascending thin limb cells or whether cell proliferation occurs in the segment undergoing transformation. This study was designed to address these questions and to identify sites of cell proliferation in the loop of Henle. Rat pups, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 14 d old, received a single injection of 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) 18 h before preservation of kidneys for immunohistochemistry. Thick ascending and descending limbs were identified by labeling with antibodies against the serotonin receptor, 5-HT1A, and aquaporin-1, respectively. Proliferating cells were identified with an antibody against BrdU. BrdU-positive cells in descending and ascending limbs of the loop of Henle were counted and expressed as percentages of the total number of aquaporin-1-positive and 5-HT1A-positive cells in the different segments. In the developing kidney, numerous BrdU-positive nuclei were observed in the nephrogenic zone. Outside of this location, BrdU-positive tubule cells were most prevalent in medullary rays in the inner cortex and in the outer medulla. BrdU-labeled cells were rare in the papillary portion of the loop of Henle and were not observed in the lower half of the papilla after 3 d of age. BrdU-labeled nuclei were not observed in segments undergoing transformation or in newly formed ascending thin limb epithelium. It was concluded that the growth zone for the loop of Henle is located around the corticomedullary junction, and the ascending thin limb is mainly, if not exclusively, derived from cells of the thick ascending limb.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1421
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


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