Key words Renal development
Alpha-smooth muscle actin
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The stromal cells in the renal cortex and medulla of adult rats reveal different phenotypes. Cortical peritubular fibroblasts are ecto-5′nucleotidase (5′NT)-positive and lack alpha-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) and vimentin immunoreactivity, whereas medullary fibroblasts are 5′NT-negative and vimentin-positive. We have studied by immunohistochemistry the postnatal (neonatal up to 8 weeks) development of renal cortical stromal cells with respect to 5′NT and to the cytoskeletal proteins αSMA and vimentin. Both αSMA and vimentin are characteristic for the renal myofibroblasts that replace stromal fibroblasts in interstitial nephritis. In new-born and 1-week-old rats, stromal cells in the cortex and medulla display αSMA and vimentin, but lack 5′NT. During the second postnatal week, αSMA and vimentin immunoreactivity in cortical interstitial cells gradually declines, whereas 5′NT reactivity becomes progressively apparent between the convoluted tubules in the juxtamedullary labyrinth. For a short time, all three proteins are found to be coexpressed in the same cells. At the end of the third week, interstitial 5′NT-immunoreactivity becomes evident also in the superficial cortical labyrinth, and αSMA and vimentin are no longer detectable in cortical peritubular cells. From the fourth week on, the distribution pattern and phenotype of 5′NT-positive cortical fibroblasts correspond to that in adult rats. The temporal pattern of maturation of cortical peritubular fibroblasts seems to parallel the functional maturation of cortical tubules. It is suggested that the local phenotype of peritubular fibroblasts in healthy and possibly also in injured kidneys may be controlled, at least in part, by the local tubular environment, conditioned by tubular metabolism and function.
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