Early events leading to renal injury in obese Zucker (fatty) rats with type II diabetes

Kidney Int. 2000 Jan;57(1):167-82. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1755.2000.00836.x.


Early events leading to renal injury in obese Zucker (fatty) rats with type II diabetes.

Background: More than half of the new patients admitted to dialysis therapy in some centers are diagnosed with type IIb diabetes, that is, diabetes associated with obesity. This study searched for a common final pathway of renal damage in this progressive renal disease.

Methods: The evolution of biochemical and morphological renal changes was examined in 6- to 60-week-old Zucker rats (fa/fa-rats), a model of obesity associated with type II diabetes.

Results: fa/fa-rats exhibited pronounced hyperinsulinemia and hyperlipidemia at 6 weeks and became diabetic after 14 weeks of age. Significant focal segmental glomerulosclerosis was first noted in 18-week-old fa/fa-rats and tubulointerstitial damage and proteinuria in 40-week-old fa/fa-rats. A comparison of kidneys of six-week-old fa/fa-and lean control (Fa/?) rats by immunohistology revealed a 1.8-fold increase in glomerular monocyte/macrophage counts in fa/fa-rats and a significant increase in de novo desmin expression in podocytes. Electron microscopy demonstrated an increase in the number of podocyte mitochondria and intracytoplasmic protein and fat droplets. Podocyte desmin scores markedly increased until week 18 in fa/fa-rats, whereas glomerular monocyte/macrophage counts peaked at 3.2-fold at week 14. Podocyte desmin expression, but not glomerular macrophage infiltration, correlated with damage in adjacent tubular cells, as evidenced by their de novo expression of vimentin. Progressive glomerular hypertrophy was detected in fa/fa-rats after 10 weeks. GBM width was significantly increased in 14-week-old fa/fa-rats as compared with lean controls. Mesangial cell activation (de novo expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin) and proliferation was low to absent throughout the observation period in fa/fa-rats. Renal cell death counts (TUNEL) remained unchanged in 6- to 40-week-old fa/fa-rats. Tubulointerstitial myofibroblast formation and matrix accumulation occurred late during the study duration in fa/fa-rats.

Conclusion: These data suggest that early progressive podocyte damage and macrophage infiltration is associated with hyperlipidemia and type IIb diabetes mellitus, and antedates both the development of glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Division
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / complications
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / metabolism
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology*
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Kidney Glomerulus / metabolism
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology
  • Kidney Glomerulus / ultrastructure
  • Leukocytes / pathology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Fibronectins
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Collagen