Repeated intraperitoneal injections twice daily of various proteins into young rats were regularly accompanied by an increase in the protein content of the urine, significant renal enlargement, and often some degree of renal pallor. The most marked changes were induced by gelatin, followed in order by human albumin and bovine globulin. Rat serum produced similar but less conclusive changes. Similar changes were not produced by equivalent amounts of urea or casein hydrolysate.
In sections from the kidneys of animals receiving gelatin, the cells of the convoluted tubules appeared enlarged, and they contained clear "spaces" throughout the cytoplasm. The tubular cells of the animals receiving the other solutions were not obviously altered in size or shape, and the cytoplasmic changes were slight or absent. There was little evidence of increased multiplication of cells or of tubular dilatation in the kidneys of any of the groups.
Changes in concentrations of plasma proteins and hemoglobin, and the results of preliminary studies of the injected proteins in urine and renal tissue following the injections, are described and their possible significance discussed.
It appears that the renal enlargement, as well as the increase in proteinuria and the tubular alterations which followed the protein injections, might have been caused in part by effects on the kidney of protein molecules per se, perhaps most likely by the effects on the tubular cells of an increased amount of protein filtered through the glomerular membranes, rather than entirely by effects of products of protein digestion and metabolism reaching the kidney through the blood stream.
In the majority of animals there was no evidence from the morphological or functional studies, that the prolonged and continuous proteinuria induced by the protein injections resulted in renal damage, unless the renal enlargement, and the cytoplasmic changes which occurred regularly with gelatin, are considered evidence of damage. Renal enlargement and proteinuria promptly regressed after injections were discontinued.
Lesions characterized by severe degrees of tubular damage, possibly as a result of tubular plugging, were observed in some of the animals of one group receiving gelatin solution of the usual concentration, and dilatation of renal tubules and glomerular capsules was present in some other gelatin-treated animals autopsied after relatively brief injection periods. A description is also presented of lesions of remarkable character which developed in the kidneys of all the animals of one small group receiving homologous serum obtained from severely anoxic donors.
The possible relationship between the renal changes in the protein-injected animals and certain alterations of the kidneys observed in diseases characterized by large amounts of protein in the urine, is considered.