Background/aims: The podocyte is an important cell for maintaining the normal structure and function of the glomerulus. In recent years much attention has been given to the number of podocytes in glomeruli. During this time there has been a debate as to whether podocytes can divide after the capillary-loop stage of development. The aim of this study was to use an unbiased counting method to determine if podocyte number increases after the capillary-loop stage of development.
Methods: The fractionator/disector method was used to count podocytes in glomeruli from rats aged 1 day, 5, 12, and 24 weeks. Glomerular volume was also measured with the unbiased Cavalieri principle and used to calculate the density of podocytes per glomerulus.
Results: The number of podocytes did not increase from the capillary-loop stage of glomerular development to 24 weeks of age. Glomerular volume increased 3.6-fold during this time, which resulted in a decrease of podocyte density as the rats aged.
Conclusion: The study documents that the number of podocytes is stable after the capillary-loop stage of glomerular development. The data does not confirm but adds evidence that podocytes do not divide from the capillary-loop stage of glomerular development to 24 weeks of age in the normal rat.
Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.