Nephron Endowment and Filtration Surface Area in the Kidney after Growth Restriction of Fetal Sheep

Eleanor K.L. Mitchell, Samantha Louey, Megan L. Cock, Richard Harding, M. Jane Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Low birth weight is associated with adult-onset diseases including hypertension and renal disease; altered renal development after intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) may underlie such prenatal programming. Our aim was to investigate nephron endowment and renal filtration surface area in fetal sheep in which IUGR resulted from late gestational umbilico-placental embolization (UPE) or natural twinning. UPE was performed between 120 and 140 d of gestation (term ∼147 d). At autopsy (140 d), body weights of UPE and twin fetuses were, respectively, 34% and 28% lower than controls. Kidneys were sampled using a smooth fractionator approach and glomerular number was estimated using a physical disector/fractionator technique. Glomerular capillary length and filtration surface area were estimated using unbiased stereological techniques. Although relative kidney weights (grams per kilogram body weight) were not different between groups, nephron endowment was 40% lower in twin fetuses compared with controls (34.3 ± 10.6 × 10 4 and 55.9 ± 19.8 × 104, respectively; p < 0.05); UPE did not alter nephron number (50.7 ± 13.2 × 10 4). There was no difference in the glomerular capillary length or surface area between the UPE and control fetuses. IUGR due to twinning leads to reduced nephron endowment whereas late gestational IUGR does not, suggesting that reduced nephron endowment is dependent on the timing of the growth restriction. Our findings demonstrate that reduced birth weight per se does not necessarily imply reduced nephron endowment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-773
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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