Estimation of Nephron Number in Whole Kidney using the Acid Maceration Method.

Affiliation

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, The University of Mississippi Medical Center; Department of Neurology, The University of Mississippi Medical Center; [Email]

Abstract

Nephron endowment refers to the total number of nephrons an individual is born with, as nephrogenesis in humans is completed by 36 weeks of gestation and no new nephrons are formed post-birth. Nephron number refers to the total number of nephrons measured at any point in time post-birth. Both genetic and environmental factors influence both nephron endowment and number. Understanding how specific genes or factors influence the process of nephrogenesis and nephron loss or demise is important as individuals with lower nephron endowment or number are thought to be at a higher risk of developing renal or cardiovascular disease. Understanding how environmental exposures over the course of a person's lifetime affects nephron number will also be vital in determining future disease risk. Thus, the ability to assess whole kidney nephron number quickly and reliably is a basic experimental requirement to better understand mechanisms that contribute to or promote nephrogenesis or nephron loss. Here, we describe the acid maceration method for the estimation of whole kidney nephron number based on the procedure described by Damadian, Shawayri, and Bricker, with slight modifications. The acid maceration method provides fast and reliable estimates of nephron number (as assessed by counting glomeruli) that are within 5% of those determined using more advanced, albeit expensive, methods such as magnetic resonance imaging. Moreover, the acid maceration method is an excellent high-throughput method to assess nephron number in large numbers of samples or experimental conditions.

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