Purpose: Over 90% of nephrogenesis in the rat takes place postnatally in the first 10 days, analogous to the midtrimester human fetus. We wished to determine the relationship between the duration of unilateral ureteral obstruction and growth and morphology of both kidneys following relief of the obstruction in the neonatal rat.
Materials and methods: One ureter of 1 day-old rats was sham-operated or occluded and released 1, 2, 3, or 5 days later, or not released. Fourteen or 28 days later, renal mass, tubular atrophy, and interstitial fibrosis were determined in the obstructed and contralateral kidney of each group.
Results: At 28 days, there was a linear relationship between kidney/body weight ratio and duration of obstruction, such that the decrement in renal mass resulting from ipsilateral obstruction was precisely compensated by an equal increment in the mass of the contralateral kidney (both, p <0.0001). Tubular atrophy was increased 100-fold in kidneys of rats with 28 days continuous ipsilateral obstruction, while relief of obstruction after 2 to 5 days reduced tubular atrophy by 90% (p <0.01). Interstitial fibrosis was also markedly reduced by relief of obstruction, with the severity of fibrosis being proportional to the duration of obstruction.
Conclusions: We conclude that ureteral obstruction during the critical period of nephrogenesis impairs growth of the obstructed kidney and stimulates growth of the contralateral kidney in direct proportion to the duration of obstruction. Moreover, counterbalance between the two kidneys is finely regulated. Even 2 days of ureteral obstruction (with subsequent relief) induces contralateral renal growth, and induces ipsilateral tubular atrophy. However, the time dependence of renal injury on duration of obstruction suggests that earlier relief of obstruction in the developing kidney may allow greater ultimate preservation of functional renal mass.