Paper - Note on the basement membranes of the tubules of the kidney (1901)

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Mall FP. On the origin of the lymphatics in the liver. (1901) Johns Hopkins Hospital Bulletin 12: 140

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Note on the Basement Membranes of the Tubules of the Kidney

Franklin Mall (1911)
Franklin Mall

By Franklin P. Mall.

Professor of Analomy, Johns Hopkins Universily.


In au earlier publication upon reticulated tissues in general the statement was made that the whole framework of the kidney, including the basement membranes, from the capsule to the pelvis, is formed by one mass of anastomosing fibrils, and that the sharp borders of the fibrils mark the outlines of the tubules to form the basement membranes which in ordinary sections i!]ipear to be homogeneous.' This statement was based upon observations made by digesting frozen sections of the kidney, digested in pancreatin, stained with acid fuchsin and differentiated with picric acid. By this method all of the cells and other structnres of the kidney are destroyed, leaving only the white fibres and reticulated fibrils which are stained intensely red. This observation has been confirmed by Eiihle," who used a method similar to the one I employed. Eiihle digested small blocks of kidney (after hardening in alcohol) with pancreatin until all the cells were dissolved, then made sections in paraffin, which were stained irpon the slide. By this method the topography of the reticulum is retained much better than is the case in specimens made by the freezing method.

' Mall, Abhandl. dcr math.-phys. classe dcr Kiiiiigl. Siicli. (iesehell. der wisscusch., Bd. Ill, and Johns Iloiikius Hospital Reports, vol. 1.

Fig. 1. — Longitudinal section of the fr.imewoik encircling a kidney tubule digested in pancreatin, stained witli acid fuchsin, and differentiated with picric acid. Enlarged 'SiS times.

The work of Eiihle, which is very accurate and extensive, shows quite conclusively that the fibrils obtained by his method, as well as by the freezing method, are identical with those which form the interstitial tissue as seen in ordinary sections.

The observations given above have been confirmed by Disse,' who states, however, that the basement membranes of the kidney which have been isolated by means of strong acids always appear to be homogeneous. This he explains by as.suming that pancreatic digestion resolves the membrane into fibrils by dissolving the cement substance between them. The strong acids, however, dissolve the interstitial connective tissue but do not affect those fibrils which are stuck together by the cement substance to form basement membranes.

Von Ebner is of the opinion that the fibrillar appearance of the basement membranes of the kidney is due to fine folds in it owing to the method of preparation. He further states that the fibrils of connective tissue between the tubules stain with acid fuchsin while the membranes do not. There is some truth in this statement, for in sections of the kidney which have been macerated and slightly tinged the stained fibres shine through the homogeneous membrane, often making it ajipcar folded. Yet with some care the true nature of these makings is easily determined.

-lUihle, His's. Archiv, iS'.l".

3 Disse, Sitzungsbericlite dcr Gescliellsch. zur Beforderung der gesanimten Naturwisseuschaftcn zu Marburg, November, 1898.

Fig. :.'.— Transverse section of the rcticulura encircling a kidney tubule prepared as Fig. 1.

Keceiilly, while studying sections of the fresh kidney liy m{>ans of various methods, I obtained specimens which ]n-oved that tlie ol)servations of Eiihle, Disse and myself are correct, so far as they go, but that our conclusions regarding the basement membranes are not correct. The baskets, which I reproduce in Figs. 1 and 2, do exist, are easily obtained by means of pancreatic digestion, but do not form the basement membranes. An additional membrane, the basement membrane, lies within this tube and is totally destroyed by means of pancreatic digestion. The most instructive specimens I obtained were made by macerating frozen sections of the rabbit's kidney in a cold saturated solution of bicarbonate of soda for a number of days, after which most of the cells have been converted into a slimy mass. Shaking the section vigorously in water soon cleared the framework, wliicli was next spread upon a slide and examined. In case most of the cell remnants had been removed the section was dried upon the slide, stained with acid fuchsin, differentiated with picric acid and numiite'd in halsani. Suceossful sections prepared in this way sliow the basement membranes partly filled with the remnants of epithelial cells, the interstitial reticidatcd connective tissue and the blood-vessels. A portion of such a specimen is shown in Fig. 3.

Von Ebner, Kolliker's Handbuch der Gewebelehre, Bd. 3, S. 374-375.

After specimens of the basement membranes and the rcticuhim are obtained through maceration in bicarbonate of soda, as described aliove, they may be treated with various reagents to test their projierties. Dilute solutions of IICl and KOI I cause the reticulum to swell and become transparent, whili' the basement mendjrane and the elastic filjrils accompanying the arteries remain unchanged. But it is shown by the Weigert's elastic tissue stain that the mem])ranes are not elastic, for they do not take on the stain wliile the elastic tissue fibres do. Furthermore, Mallory's connective tissue stain,° stains the reticulum but not the membranes. As far as I have tested the basement membranes they give reactions

^ Mallory, Journal of Exitcriniental Mi'tliciiiu, vol.

much like the membranes of elastic fibres, but whether they arc identical with them I have been unable to determine.

Fig. 3. Lon</;itu(linal section of a kidney tubule with the surrouudinK

reticulum from a specimen macerated in bicarbonate of soda for a week, shaken, dried upon the slide, stained with acid fuchsiu and dill'erentiated with picric acid. The basement membrane partly tilled with broken epithelial cells and surrounded with reticulum are shown. The drawingis semidiaijrammatic.

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, April 12) Embryology Paper - Note on the basement membranes of the tubules of the kidney (1901). Retrieved from

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