Differences in rat kidney morphology between males, females and testosterone-treated females

Ren Physiol Biochem. May-Jun 1991;14(3):92-102. doi: 10.1159/000173392.


Kidneys of normal female and male Wistar-Kyoto rats were studied by standard morphological techniques and morphometry in order to evaluate possible differences in the overall kidney morphology between both sexes. Furthermore, we investigated the role of testosterone (DHT) on kidney morphology by treating females with daily DHT injections. Kidney weight and volume in relation to body weight were not significantly different between males and females and were not affected by DHT. Differences were found in the volume distribution among the kidney zones. The cortex was larger in males than in females, whereas the medulla was conspicuously larger in females than in males. The greater volume of the cortex in males was mainly due to a more extensive development of proximal tubules. DHT treatment in females increased the volume of their proximal tubules. Glomerular volume was similar among the three groups. Within the medulla, the difference was most prominent in the inner stripe (14.9% of the total kidney volume in females vs. 8.9% in males) and was also important in the inner medulla (7.0 vs. 4.8%). The absolute epithelial volume of thick ascending limbs in this zone was larger in females than in males. This difference was more pronounced in short loops (approximately 20%) than in long loops (approximately 10%). The values of the DHT-treated females ranged in between. In spite of the greater development of medulla and thick ascending limbs in females, urine concentration was higher in males than in females and maximum urinary concentrating ability after 48 h dehydration was not different between both sexes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weight
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Female
  • Kidney / anatomy & histology*
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney Medulla / anatomy & histology
  • Kidney Tubules / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred WKY / anatomy & histology*
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Testosterone