Scanning Microscopy


In kidneys of healthy rats submitted to a crystal-inducing diet (CID) with ethylene glycol (EG) and NH4Cl, the fate of retained crystals in the papillar region is studied during a recovery period of one, five or ten days, as model system for human nephrolithiasis. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) shows, at papillary tips bulging into the calycine space, crystal masses covered either by the epithelium or a thin fibrous veil, or by unidentified mobile cuboidal cells. After CID plus one or five days recovery, small sub-epithelial swellings are seen of large sub-epithelial crystals at or around the papillary tip. After CID plus ten days, massive sub-surface crystal-containing micrometer-sized stones are seen in which the presence of calcium is confirmed by X-ray microanalysis. The papillary tip of rats after a re-challenge with an oxalate load from 0.1 vol% EG for twelve or forty-two days shows minor lesions. But a re-challenge with 0.3 vol% EG for thirty-seven days induces large sub-epithelial papillary millimeter-sized stones. The Von Kossa section staining converts the crystals into a black precipitate, but large peri-tubular or peri-vascular calcium deposits are absent. A new hypothesis about the etiology of an inductive calcium oxalate monohydrate nephrolithiasis is formulated which differs from the one proposed by Randall based on his deductive human kidney studies.

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