Background: Inhibition of angiotensin action, pharmacologically or genetically, during the neonatal period leads to renal anomalies involving hypoplastic papilla and dilated calyx. Recently, we documented that angiotensinogen (Agt -/-) or angiotensin type 1 receptor nullizygotes (Agtr1 -/-) do not develop renal pelvis nor ureteral peristaltic movement, both of which are essential for isolating the kidney from the high downstream ureteral pressure. We therefore examined whether these renal anomalies could be characterized as "obstructive" nephropathy.
Methods: Agtr1 -/- neonatal mice were compared with wild-type neonates, the latter subjected to surgical complete unilateral ureteral ligation (UUO), by analyzing morphometrical, immunohistochemical, and molecular indices. Agtr1 -/- mice were also subjected to a complete UUO and were compared with wild-type UUO mice by quantitative analysis. To assess the function of the urinary tract, baseline pelvic and ureteral pressures were measured.
Results: The structural anomalies were qualitatively indistinguishable between the Agtr1 -/- without surgical obstruction versus the wild type with complete UUO. Thus, in both kidneys, the calyx was enlarged, whereas the papilla was atrophic; tubulointerstitial cells underwent proliferation and also apoptosis. Both were also characterized by interstitial macrophage infiltration and fibrosis, and within the local lesion, transforming growth factor-beta 1, platelet-derived growth factor-A and insulin-like growth factor-1 were up-regulated, whereas epidermal growth factor was down-regulated. Moreover, quantitative differences that exist between mutant kidneys without surgical obstruction and wild-type kidneys with surgical UUO were abolished when both underwent the same complete surgical UUO. The hydraulic baseline pressure was always lower in the pelvis than that in the ureter in the wild type, whereas this pressure gradient was reversed in the mutant.
Conclusion: The abnormal kidney structure that develops in neonates during angiotensin inhibition is attributed largely to "functional obstruction" of the urinary tract caused by the defective development of peristaltic machinery.