Scanning Microscopy


Crystal retention is studied in a rat-model system as a possible mechanism for the etiology of human nephrolithiasis. A crystal-inducing diet (CID) of ethylene glycol plus NH4Cl in their drinking-water is offered to healthy rats to generate intratubular crystals. Subsequently, the fate of retained crystals is investigated by allowing the rats a tissue recovery/crystalluria phase for three, five and ten days, respectively, on normal drinking water.

The process of exotubulosis is observed in cortex and medulla of aldehyde-fixed kidneys after three days recovery. After five days, crystals are predominantly seen there in the interstitium. After ten days, cortex and medulla are virtually free of crystals. However, in the papillary regions after five and ten days recovery, three types of calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) crystals are present: (1) free in the calycine space, (2) sub-epithelially located surrounded by interstitial cells within, and (3) covered by macrophage-like cells, outside the original papillary surface. After a CID plus three days recovery, a further thirty-seven days extra oxalate challenge with solely 0.3 vol% ethylene glycol induced intratubular and interstitial oxalate crystals. In the papillary region, large sub-epithelial crystals are seen. However, no crystals are seen in kidneys from rats given solely (0.5 or 0.8 vol.%) ethylene glycol for thirty days. An oxalate re-challenge retards crystal removal.

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