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Keywords:

  • kidney;
  • fetal development;
  • nephroblastoma;
  • renal carcinoma;
  • cytokeratins

The distribution of cytokeratin antigens during embryogenesis of the kidney and in 57 renal tumours has been studied using immunocytochemical techniques. A polyclonal antiserum to epidermal prekeratins and the monoclonal antibodies CAM 5.2 and PKK1 have been used to identify cytokeratins of different molecular weights. The ureteric bud-derived structures expressed large molecular weight cytokeratins. The tubular component of the kidney expressed cytokeratins detected by CAM 5.2 and PKK1. During glomerular development there was transient expression of low molecular weight cytokeratins by the visceral glomerular epithelium but in the adult kidney only the parietal epithelium expressed cytokeratins. Tubules in nephroblastomas contained low molecular weight cytokeratins but the blastema did not. Some ureteric bud-derived structures were identified in six nephroblastomas. Renal carcinomas expressed low molecular weight cytokeratins. Four collecting duct carcinomas were studied; these all expressed the large molecular weight cytokeratins found in collecting duct epithelium. These results indicate that the cytokeratin phenotype of renal tumours is unchanged from that of the normal epithelial cells.