Nephrotoxic serum disease in rats has been studied by light and electron microscopy from 1 hour to 10 weeks after production of the disease.
By light microscopy leucocytic infiltration of the glomerular capillary was observed between the 3rd and 6th hour. At 6 hours an increase in colloidal iron-positive material was observed coating the extraluminal surface of the capillaries. Also at this time swelling of the endothelial cells becomes prominent. By 72 hours, thickening of the basement membrane was observed. Glomerular capillary thrombi were observed in approximately half the tissue examined in the first 2 weeks of disease. 50 per cent of the animals showed severe chronic lesions, exudation into the capsular space, crescent formation, and obliteration of glomeruli.
At 1 hour electron microscopic pictures showed that osmophilic material may line the foot processes of the epithelial cells and obliterate all but narrow channels of the space between the feet. By 6 hours thickening of the basement membrane was prominent. This change persisted throughout 10 weeks of observation. The tissue from animals which had severe chronic alterations by light microscopy revealed changes which could not be interpreted at this time.