Experimental renal disease was produced in young rats by daily subcutaneous injections of 6-dimethylamino purine, 3-amino-d-ribose (aminonucleoside). The physiologic, biochemical, and light microscopic changes were similar to those observed in human nephrosis.
Electron microscopy of the glomeruli from animals which received seven or more daily injections of aminonucleoside revealed characteristic abnormalities of the epithelial cells of the glomerular capillaries. These changes consisted of swelling, coalescence, and eventual obliteration of the epithelial cell foot processes and an increase in the number and the size of epithelial cytoplasmic vacuoles. The serial development of the ultramicroscopic pathologic changes in the epithelial cells, as observed by study of animals through the course of the disease, indicated that the smudging of the foot processes occurred at the time of onset of severe proteinuria.
Further changes, consisting of hypercellularity due primarily to an increase in the number of endothelial cells and an increase in the amount of basement membrane-like material, were regularly observed by the 12th day after injections were begun. These abnormalities were correlated with the development of uremia in the later stages of the disease process.
The distal and proximal renal tubules were abnormal by the 7th day after injections were begun, and showed localized swelling between the cristae of the mitochondria and a decrease in over-all cytoplasmic density, described as hydropic change.
Electron microscopy of glomeruli from animals which had partially recovered from aminonucleoside nephrosis revealed areas of normal epithelial cell morphology. This observation was interpreted as evidence of partial reversal of the ultramicroscopic changes in the recovery phase of the disease.
These observations of the fine structure of pathologically altered glomeruli and tubules in aminonucleoside nephrosis are similar to our findings in human nephrosis as revealed by electron microscopy of serial renal biopsies.