Using an ultrastructural immunoperoxidase technique, the distribution of endogenous albumin in the rat glomerulus was delineated under normal and abnormal hemodynamic conditions. Superficial glomeruli in anesthetized Munich-Wistar rats were rapidly fixed in situ by applying glutaraldehyde to the renal surface. Fixed tissue slices were treated with anti-rat albumin Fab fragments conjugated to horseradish peroxidase (HRP), and were then subjected to the Graham-Karnovsky ultrastructural peroxidase localization procedure. During normal blood flow, dense reaction product specific for albumin was largely confined to the glomerular capillary lumen and endothelial fenestrae, with only small amounts detectable in the lamina rara interna, and none deeper in the basement membrane (GBM) or in the urinary space. If cortical tissue was subjected to routine immersion fixation, or if fixation was performed in situ after ligation of the renal artery, reaction product was detected throughout the GBM and in the urinary space. If fixation was performed in situ after ligation of the renal artery and vein (or artery, vein and ureter), reaction product was found in the GBM and, in very large amounts, in the urinary space. If blood flow was restored for ten minutes after five minutes of renal pedicle (artery and vein) occlusion, the distribution of albumin returned to normal. Thus, glomerular barrier function depends upon the maintenance of normal blood flow conditions.
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