This cytochemical study demonstrates high levels of apparent ATPase activity in the infolded cell membranes of the proximal tubules (dog, rat, human, mouse, monkey, and opossum) and ascending loops of Henle (dog, rat, human and, to a variable degree, mouse). Electron microscopy has shown (see Rhodin (1)) that these membranes separate adjacent cells where they interlock with one another by multiple cytoplasmic lamellae containing oriented mitochondria. The significance of the high ATPase activity is considered in relation to possible movements of the membranes and to "active transport" believed to occur there.
In the rat, enzyme activity in the proximal tubule membranes does not survive formol-calcium fixation, and it is therefore necessary to use unfixed sections for its demonstration. However, in edematous rats with experimental nephrosis (induced by the injection of aminonucleoside or with antikidney serum) marked ATPase activity is exhibited in these membranes even after formol-calcium fixation.
When proximal tubule or Henle loop cells of the dog acquire an altered metabolism, as indicated by accumulated lipide spheres or by "droplets," the infolded ATPase-rich membranes are no longer demonstrable.