Glomerular structural changes in pregnant, diabetic, and pregnant-diabetic rats


  • Received 2 December 2003.

    Accepted 9 August 2004.

Ruth Rasch, Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Medical Research Laboratory, Aarhus University Hospital, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. e-mail:


Kidneys enlarge both during pregnancy and in diabetes. The enlargement and morphology of glomeruli was studied during pregnancy and in diabetes in order to examine possible similarities, differences, and interactions in the growth in these conditions. Morphometric investigations were performed on glomeruli in pregnant rats, in rats with 2 weeks' diabetes, and in pregnant-diabetic rats. Kidneys were enlarged 22% in the midterm pregnant rats compared with controls, 74% in diabetic rats, and a further 21% in pregnant-diabetic rats. Glomerular volume was enlarged by 26% during midterm pregnancy in normal animals. Diabetes induced an enlargement in glomerular volume of 58% and a further 18% in midterm diabetic animals due to pregnancy. Within the glomerulus, pregnancy in normal animals induced minor non-significant changes. Diabetes induced significant increase in several parameters: mesangial volume and cell volume, capillary and glomerular basement membrane volume, capillary wall surface area, foot process width, filtration slit length, and nuclear number. Pregnancy in diabetic animals induced no significant additional changes. In conclusion, kidney enlargement in pregnancy shows very few glomerular changes in either normal or diabetic animals. Enlargement of glomeruli in diabetes involves hypertrophy and hyperplasia concurrent with several morphological changes within the glomerulus.