Background: The localization and role of the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) along the nephron including the collecting ducts is still open to debate.
Methods: Using the quantitative, highly sensitive in situ hybridization technique and a double-staining immunohistochemistry technique, we investigated the axial distribution and expression of CaSR along the nephron in mice (C57B/6J) treated for 6 days with acid or alkali diets.
Results: Under control condition, CaSR was specifically localized in the cortical and medullary thick ascending limb of Henle's loop (CTAL and MTAL), macula densa (MD), distal convoluted tubule (DCT), and CCD (TALs, MD > DCT, CCD). Along the CCD, CaSR was co-localized with an anion exchanger type 4 (AE4), a marker of the basolateral membrane of type-B intercalated cell (IC-B) in mice. On the contrary, CaSR was not detected either in principal cells (PC) or in type-A intercalated cell (IC-A). CaSR expression levels in IC-B significantly (P < 0.005) decreased when mice were fed NH4Cl (acid) diets and increased when animals were given NaHCO3 (alkali) diets. As expected, cell heights of IC-A and IC-B significantly (P < 0.005) increased in the above experimental conditions. Surprisingly, single infusion (ip) of neomycin, an agonist of CaSR, significantly (P < 0.005) increased urinary Ca excretion without further increasing the hourly urine volume and significantly (P < 0.05) decreased urine pH.
Conclusion: CaSR, cloned from rat kidney, was localized in the basolateral membrane of IC-B and was more expressed during alkali-loading. Its alkali-sensitive expression may promote urinary alkali secretion for body acid-base balance.
Keywords: Acid/base diet; Calcium-sensing receptor; Kidney collecting duct intercalated cell; Neomycin; Urinary calcium concentration.