Three-dimensional functional reconstruction of inner medullary thin limbs of Henle's loop

Thomas L. Pannabecker, Diane E. Abbott, William H. Dantzler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Digital three-dimensional (3-D) functional reconstructions of inner medullary nephrons were performed. Antibodies against aquaporins (AQP)-1 and -2 and the chloride channel CIC-K1 identified descending thin limbs (DTLs), collecting ducts (CDs), and ascending thin limbs (ATLs), respectively, through indirect immunofluorescence. Tubules were labeled in transverse sections and assembled into 3-D arrays, permitting individual tubule or combined surface representations to depths of 3.3 mm to be viewed in an interactive digital model. Surface representations of 75 tubules positioned near the central region of the inner medulla were reconstructed. In most DTL segments that form loops below I mm from the inner medullary base, AQPI expression begins at the base, becomes intermittent for variable lengths, and continues nearly midway to the loop. The terminal DTL segment exhibiting undetectable AQPI represents nearly 60% of the distance from the medullary base to the tip of the loop. AQP1 expression was entirely undetectable in shorter long-looped DTLs. ClC-K1 is expressed continuously along the terminal portion of all DTLs reconstructed here, beginning with a prebend region ∼164 μm before the bend in all tubules and continuing through the entire ascent of the ATLs to the base of the inner medulla. CDs express AQP2 continuously and extensive branching patterns are illustrated. 3-D functional reconstruction of inner medullary nephrons is capable of showing axial distribution of membrane proteins in tubules of the inner medulla and can contribute to further development and refinement of models that attempt to elucidate the concentrating mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F38-F45
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number1 55-1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Aquaporin
  • ClC-K1
  • Concentrating mechanism
  • Countercurrent multiplier
  • Three-dimensional reconstruction
  • αB-crystallin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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