Scanning Microscopy


In the present study, we exposed rats to a crystal-inducing diet (CID) consisting of vitamin D3 and 0.5% ethylene glycol (EG), and we investigated histologically the kidney damage induced by the deposition of calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystals. After 28 days, 50 % of the animals had renal CaOx crystals, of which 60% also had small papillary stones. Most crystals were present in the cortex. The occurrence of these crystals coincided with morphological and cytochemical changes: glomerular damage, tubular dilatation and necrosis, and an enlargement of the interstitium. The number of epithelial and interstitial cells positive for the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) was increased. Tamm-Horsfall protein (THP) was not only demonstrable in the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle (TAL), but also frequently in glomeruli, in the proximal tubular epithelium, and in the papilla. In the lumen of the tubular system, it was associated with urinary casts. Reflection contrast microscopy (RCM) showed that the crystals were coated with a thin layer of THP. In spite of the high urinary oxalate concentrations, the above described cellular changes were not observed in CID-fed rats without renal crystals. We conclude, therefore, that in the kidney, the retained CaOx crystals rather than the urinary oxalate ions are responsible for the observed morphological and immunocytochemical changes.

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