Uremic colitis of varying severity occurred in the majority of conventionalized rats dying after removal of both kidneys, but was not found in uremic conventionalized and germfree rats sacrificed preterminally, or in germfree and limited-flora rats dying from uremia, or in any of the controls. The lesions were restricted to the cecum and their incidence and severity paralleled a shorter duration of survival. Cardiovascular damage including focal myocardial necrosis and calcification and patchy aortic and coronary calcification were observed in uremic rats regardless of their microbial status. These lesions had a higher incidence, developed more rapidly, and were more severe in the germfree and limited-flora rats than in the conventionalized animals. The presence or severity of the lesions, however, did not correlate with survival time of rats dying from uremia or with total plasma calcium and inorganic phosphorus levels of individual animals. Generalized necrotizing arteritis was not observed. Wound healing was poor in all uremic rats regardless of microbial status. Focal infection was noted in a few conventionalized rats dying from uremia, did not correlate with survival time, and was absent in all other groups.
Comparison of biochemical findings between uremic germfree and conventionalized rats show a higher blood urea nitrogen and elevated plasma indoxyl sulfate in the presence of a microbial flora and a greater amount of plasma inorganic phosphorus in its absence. Uremia resulted in a decrease in hematocrit and increase in plasma and muscle potassium that were similar for germfree and conventionalized rats. Plasma and muscle sodium, total plasma calcium, glucose, and total protein were essentially unchanged by microbial status or uremia.
Because the foregoing differences in the metabolic and histopathologic changes of uremia are linked to the known difference in microbial status of the fasting bilaterally-nephrectomized rats that were studied, they are a tangible indication of ways by which the indigenous microbial flora and its composition may affect the course of acute uremia.