We previously reported the presence of a basement membrane-specific chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (BM-CSPG) in basement membranes of almost all adult tissues. However, an exception to this ubiquitous distribution was found in the kidney, where BM-CSPG was absent from the glomerular capillary basement membrane (GBM) but present in other basement membranes of the nephron, including collecting ducts, tubules, Bowman's capsule, and the glomerular mesangium. In light of this unique pattern of distribution and of the complex histoarchitectural reorganization occurring during nephrogenesis, the present study used light and electron microscopic immunohistochemistry to examine the distribution of BM-CSPG and basement membrane heparan sulfate proteoglycan (BM-HSPG) during prenatal and postnatal renal development in the rat. Our results show that the temporal and spatial pattern of expression of BM-CSPG during nephrogenesis is unlike that reported for other basement membrane components such as laminin, fibronectin, and BM-HSPG, all of which can be found in the earliest formed basement membranes of the vesicle-stage nephron. Although BM-CSPG is present in the basement membranes of the invading vasculature and ureteric buds, its first appearance in nephron basement membrane occurs during the late comma stage. In capillary loop-stage glomeruli of prenatal animals, BM-CSPG is present in the presumptive mesangial matrix but undetectable in the GBM. However, as postnatal glomerular maturation progresses BM-CSPG is also found in both the lamina rara interna and lamina densa of the GBM in progressively increasing amounts, being most evident in the GBM of 21-day-old animals. Micrographs of glomeruli from 42-day-old animals show that BM-CSPG gradually disappears from the GBM and, by 56 days after birth, appears to be completely absent from the GBM, its pattern of distribution resembling that of the adult animal. Our results show that BM-CSPG is not required for the initial assembly of basement membranes but may in fact serve to stabilize basement membrane structure after histoarchitectural reorganization is completed.
Keywords: Animals; Basement Membrane; Endothelium, Vascular; Fluorescent Antibody Technique; Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans; Heparitin Sulfate; Immunoenzyme Techniques; Kidney Glomerulus; Microscopy, Immunoelectron; Morphogenesis; Nephrons; Proteochondroitin Sulfates; Proteoglycans; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley