Kidney Development Essay
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K How do the kidney and urinary tract develop? What common anomalies can occur?
The main function of the urinary system is to maintain electrolyte and water balance and also excrete toxic metabolites such as urea and ammonia. Before birth the fetus excretes copious amounts of dilute urine but after birth the loops of Henle lengthen and the urine becomes more concentrated. The urinary system develops from 2 different germ layers; the kidney and the ureter develops from the intermediate mesoderm which also gives rise to structures such as the suprarenal glands and gonads whereas the bladder and the urethra arises from the endoderm of the hindgut. 1) Development of the three nephric systems The development of the functional kidney relies on the formation of 3 embryonic kidney systems that develop in the intermediate mesoderm in a craniocaudal sequence. These systems are developmentally distinct both temporally, as they grow and regress at different times and spatially as they are confined to different regions along the anterior posterior axis. First is the formation of the pronephric kidney which induces the formation of the mesonpheric kidney and this then induces the development of the metanephric kidney. In lampreys and hagfishes both the pronephros and the mesonephros are active in the adult but in humans the pronephros and mesonephric renal corpusles regress generating a non segmental adult organ in the metanephric region. The key transcription factor that is needed for the development of the nephrogenic intermediate mesoderm is Pax 2. This was experimentally proven when the Pax 2 gene was expressed in non nephrogenic regions of the intermediate mesoderm by viral transfection it resulted in ectopic nephric structures. Further supporting this evidence is knock out of Pax 2 in transgenic mice which resulted in the absence of the metanephric region resulting in no kidney. The expression of Pax 2 is thought to be due to signalling factors released from both the somites and ectoderm. This is because when the somites and ectoderm were removed it resulted in decreased gene expression of Pax2 in the nephrogenic region. The anterior posterior patterning of the three embryonic kidney systems relies on gradients of gene expression. This ensures pronephros, mesonephros and metanephros form in the correct sequence and location. a) Formation of Pronephros The first stage in the development of the three kidney systems is the formation of the mesonpheric duct which starts to form during 4 th week in the region of C5 to C7 in the intermediate mesoderm. The cells within this region undergo mesenchymal epithelial transformation resulting in the formation of 2 solid longitudinal ducts on the left and right sides of the embryo. Through proliferation and recruitment of cells
K to the caudal ends the mesonpheric ducts grow in a caudal direction and eventually leads to the duct fusing with the cloaca. The point at which the duct makes contact with the cloaca, apoptosis occurs which leads to canalisation and this proceeds in a cranial direction and forms the wolffian duct. The next stage is the formation of the pronephros which occurs as the cervical region of the wolffian duct induces the adjacent mesoderm to undergo mesenchymal epithelial transformation. However unlike animals such as lamphreys and amphibians, in humans the pronephric buds become hollow and regress in a cranio caudal sequence and are nonexistent by day 28. b) Formation of the mesenophros In the region inferior to the pronephric region, the mesonpheric duct initially induces the formation of 40 mesonpheric tubules which also develop in a craniocaudal sucession from the upper thoracic region to L3. However as the more caudal tubules begin to differentiate the cranial tubules regress so by the end of mesonpheros formation there are only 20 mesonephroi in the region of L1 to L3. These mesonephroi then differentiate into functional excretory units known as mesonpheric renal corpuscles. At the medial end each corpuscle is made up of a Bowman's capsule which encircles a glomerulus and at the lateral end the tubule fuses with the wolffian duct. The structures remain functional between week 6 to 10 but regress soon after. In females they degenerate completely due to that lack of testosterone. However in males, the caudal most mesonpheric renal corpusles lead to the formation of the efferent ductules in the genital duct system. c) Formation of the metanephros While the mesonephros is still functional, the metanephros, which gives rise to the definitive kidneys in humans, begin to develop. The caudal end of the mesonpheric duct is induced by the nearby sacral mesenchyme in the intermediate mesoderm, known as the metanephric blastmea, to evaginate and form another branch, known as the ureteric bud. This ureteric bud gives rise to the ureter in the developed urinary system. As the ureteric bud grows it penetrates the metanephric blastema which again induces the bud to bifurcate. At the first contact, the ureteric bud enlarges to form the initial ampulla which gives rise to the renal pelvis. During 6 th week the ureteric bud birfucates 4 times giving rise to 16 branches when then coalesce to form the 4 major calyces. In a similar pattern the major calyces birfucate four times and then fuse to form the minor calyces. Finally during the 32 nd week there are 11 additional generations of birfucations and these become the future collecting ducts. The branching of the ureteric bud was experimentally seen through the use of Hoxb7/GFP transfene which proved the branching morphogenesis. One of the key problems that can arise from the branching of the ureteric bud is the formation of a Y shaped bifid ureter which occurs if the ureteric bud bifurcates prematurely. As the muscular walls contract asynchronously in both
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