Mechanism of compensatory renal hypertrophy

J Physiol. 1971 Dec;219(3):507-23. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1971.sp009675.


1. Adult rats were unilaterally nephrectomized and the weight of the remaining kidney up to 42 days after the operation compared with that of rats of comparable weight which underwent a sham operation.2. After unilateral nephrectomy the rate of renal hypertrophy varied with the protein content of the diet: it was faster when animals were fed on a high protein diet (22% casein) and lowest in animals fed on a low protein diet (7% casein).3. In rats fed on a standard diet (18% casein), after unilateral nephrectomy there was a sharp increase in glomerular filtration rate (G.F.R.), as measured by inulin clearance estimations; this was accompanied by an enhanced oxygen uptake and by an increase of RNA/DNA ratios in the renal cortex. Changes in rate of oxygen uptake and of RNA/DNA ratios in the medulla were negligible.4. A marked increase in mitotic activity of cells of the cortex occurred only 48 hr after the operation. It lasted for about 2 days. No significant changes in mitotic activity of cells in the medulla were observed.5. After its initial marked rise glomerular filtration rate in the renoprival kidney settled down to about 30-40% above its pre-operative level, and remained at that level for the whole period of observation (6 weeks), while the increase of oxygen uptake returned to its control level in some 10-14 days. RNA/DNA ratios in the cortex remained high, but did not increase further.6. The increase of RNA/DNA ratios in the renal cortex was correlated with a steady increase in the dry weight of the renoprival kidney.7. Water and solutes excretion were restored to normal in about 3-5 days after the operation.8. Though the increase in glomerular filtration rate may be the prime mover in the mechanism of compensatory renal hypertrophy, it does not explain why there is an increase in the size of tubules.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caseins
  • DNA
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Hypertrophy
  • Inulin / metabolism
  • Kidney / growth & development
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney Tubules / physiology
  • Male
  • Mitosis
  • Nephrectomy*
  • Organ Size
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • RNA
  • Rats
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Urine
  • Water / metabolism


  • Caseins
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Water
  • RNA
  • Inulin
  • DNA
  • Sodium