Acute puromycin aminonucleoside nephrosis (PAN) in rats is characterized by heavy proteinuria associated with renal hypercellularity. The role of apoptosis in the resolution of renal hypercellularity was investigated in PAN. To study the participation of apoptosis in PAN, renal tissues were collected from nephrotic and control rats on weeks 1, 2 and 7 after a single puromycin amino-nucleoside injection. Apoptosis was evaluated by light and electron microscopy. Apoptotic DNA fragmentation was detected by TUNEL staining. Renal tissues were also evaluated by the presence of leukocyte common antigen (LCA), ED1 (macrophages) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) with corresponding monoclonal antibodies. An increased number of apoptotic (TUNEL+) cells was observed in the glomerulus at week 1. Electron microscopy analysis showed glomerular apoptosis mainly in endothelial cells. In the interstitium and tubules, increased apoptosis was observed at weeks 1 and 2. Increased apoptosis was accompanied with increased LCA+, ED1+ and PCNA+ cells in the interstitium and with increased PCNA+ cells in tubules. There was a high significant correlation between the number of apoptotic cells and the number of interstitial LCA+, ED1+ and PCNA+ cells. Tubular PCNA expression was correlated with tubular apoptosis. We also observed significant correlation between glomerular, interstitial and tubular apoptosis with proteinuria during the nephrosis. Double staining analysis showed that about 13% of interstitial or tubular apoptotic cells were positive for PCNA. All these values returned to normal by week 7. These results indicate that apoptosis is involved in the repairing process of this disease model.
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