Purpose: Radiation-induced changes in glomerular and tubular cell kinetics and morphology following irradiation of a single pig kidney were assessed.
Methods and materials: The right kidney of 13 adult female Large White pigs was irradiated with a single dose of 9.8 Gy gamma rays. Animals were serially killed between 2 and 24 weeks postirradiation (PI); 1 h prior to postmortem each pig received 500 mg bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd). At postmortem, both kidneys were removed and tissue taken to prepare cell suspensions. The labeling index (LI) of these suspensions was measured using flow cytometry; in vivo BrdUrd incorporation in glomerular and tubular cells was determined immunohistochemically. The kidneys were also assessed histologically.
Results: Irradiation of the right kidney alone resulted in a significant increase in renal cell LI in both the irradiated and the contralateral unirradiated kidney within 2 weeks of irradiation; peak values of 1.57 +/- 0.32% and 1.04 +/- 0.13%, respectively, were seen 4 weeks PI, significantly greater (P < 0.001) than the preirradiation value of 0.18 +/- 0.01%. The LI values then declined with time, but remained greater than those seen prior to irradiation. A similar pattern of response was determined from counts of labeled glomerular and tubular cells identified immunohistochemically. The increase in labeled glomerular cells was seen 2 weeks PI, whereas that for the tubular cells did not occur until 4 weeks PI. The irradiated kidney exhibited diffuse, progressive glomerular alterations. In contrast, tubular damage was focal; the irradiated kidney also exhibited a prominent vasculopathy, involving arteriolar and peripheral interlobular artery thickening. The contralateral unirradiated kidney appeared unchanged.
Conclusion: These findings confirm the hypothesis that the morphologic and kinetic responses observed after irradiation of a single kidney are similar to those observed after irradiation of both kidneys. Renal irradiation results in significant alterations in glomerular and tubular cell proliferation and morphology within 2-4 weeks of irradiation; glomerular changes appear predominant.