Cell proliferation and apoptosis in kidney with chronic obstructive uropathy (COU) have not been adequately studies. Whether these fundamental cellular processes play any role in the pathogenesis and evolution of COU remains undetermined. Sprague-Dawley rats with COU induced by unilateral ureteral ligation were sacrificed at postoperative days 1, 6, 9, 15, 25, 34, 43, 43, 60, 75, and 90, and were compared with control, sham-operated rats sacrificed at days 0, 15, 43, and 90. The kidneys with ureteral ligation, the contralateral kidneys, and the control kidneys were submitted to in situ end- labeling of fragmented DNAs for the detection of apoptotic cells, and to immunostaining with many monoclonal antibodies directed against the nuclear antigens associated with cell proliferation for the detection of proliferation cells. Additional rats with COU were also submitted to BrdU labeling in detect proliferating cells. The tubular, interstitial, and glomerular cells showing either apoptosis or proliferation were separately quantitated and the obtained data were correlated with dry kidney weight, tubular diameter, glomerular surface area and interstitial volume. Apoptotic tubular cells in kidney with COU increased rapidly, reaching 30-fold that of control at day 25, which was followed by an equally rapid decreases to the control level. During the same period, both the dry kidney weight and the mean tubular diameter decreased markedly. These data suggest that apoptosis may play a significant role in tubular atrophy and renal weight loss. The rapid increase in tubular cell apoptosis was immediately preceded by a 37% gain in the dry kidney weight over the control: just before that increase, there was also an approximate 60-told increase in the proliferation rate of tubular cells detected by immunostaining for proliferating nuclear antigen or by BrdU labeling. The significance of this intriguing temporal relationship of tubular cell apoptosis and proliferation remains to be elucidated, but it may have pathogenic implications. In contrast to the rise and fall of the frequency of tubular cell apoptosis and proliferation, the frequency of interstitial cell apoptosis and proliferation displayed continuous increase toward the end of the experiment, with a roughly parallel increase in the interstitial damage. Apoptosis and proliferation of glomerular cells in kidneys with COU did not show any significance changes throughout the experiment. In conclusion, the obtained data suggest that tubular cells apoptosis may be pathogenetically related to the tubular atrophy and renal tissue loss n COU, and that proliferation and apoptosis of interstitial cells may play a role in the observed interstitial changes in this model. This study should provide the impetus for further exploration of the mechanisms of cell death and cell proliferation as a novel venue for understanding the pathogenesis of COU.
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