Expression of vimentin and cytokeratin types of intermediate filament proteins in developing and adult human kidneys

Lab Invest. 1984 May;50(5):552-9.


Expression of cytokeratins and vimentin in developing and adult human kidney was studied by the indirect immunofluorescence technique using monoclonal and conventional antiintermediate filament antibodies. The undifferentiated cells of the metanephric mesenchyme expressed vimentin but not cytokeratins, whereas only cytokeratins could be visualized in the cells of induced renal vesicles. At the S-shaped body stage of nephrogenesis, the presumptive visceral and parietal cells of the developing glomeruli did not contain either detectable vimentin or cytokeratins, whereas cells of the tubular pole of the S-shaped body were stained within antibodies to cytokeratins. At a later stage the cuboidal visceral epithelial cells of the presumptive glomeruli were brightly positive for vimentin, but not for cytokeratins, and maintained their expression of vimentin during later stages of glomerulogenesis and in adult kidneys. Only some of the cells of the parietal epithelium, but not other glomerular elements, showed cytokeratin-specific staining. In fetal kidneys, the epithelial cells of proximal and distal tubules and of collecting ducts showed a cytoplasmic staining with two monoclonal antibodies to cytokeratins (PKK1 and PKK2), reacting with different cytokeratin polypeptides. In adult kidneys, a basolateral fluorescence in proximal and distal tubules was obtained with PKK1 antibodies, whereas PKK2 stained only the cells of the collecting ducts. Vimentin was not found in tubular epithelial cells at any developmental stage, whereas the cells of collecting ducts showed a transient expression of vimentin in fetal kidneys. Our results show a developmental stage-dependent pattern in the expression of the intermediate filament antigens in the cells of the kidney and show the exceptional expression of only vimentin in the visceral epithelial cells of human glomeruli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Fetus / analysis
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / analysis*
  • Keratins / analysis*
  • Kidney / analysis
  • Kidney / embryology*
  • Kidney Tubules / analysis
  • Kidney Tubules, Collecting / analysis
  • Vimentin


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Vimentin
  • Keratins