During metabolic acidosis, the cortical collecting duct (CCD) of the rabbit reverses the polarity of bicarbonate flux from net secretion to net absorption, and this is accomplished by increasing the proton secretory rate by α-intercalated cells (α-ICs) and decreasing bicarbonate secretion by β-ICs. To better characterize dynamic changes in H+-secreting α-ICs we examined their morphology in collecting ducts microdissected from kidneys of normal, acidotic, and recovering rabbits. α-ICs in defined axial regions varied in number and basolateral anion exchanger 1 (AE1) morphology which likely reflects their relative activity and function along the collecting duct. Upon transition from CCD to outer medullary collecting duct from the outer stripe (OMCDo) to inner stripe (OMCDi), the number of α-ICs increases from 11.0±1.2 to 15.4±1.11, and to 32.0±1.3 cells/200 microns, respectively. In the CCD the basolateral structure defined by AE1 typically exhibited a pyramidal or conical shape, whereas in the medulla the morphology was elongated and shallow resulting in a more rectangular shape. Furthermore, acidosis reversibly induced α-ICs in the CCD to acquire a more rectangular morphology concomitant with a transition from diffusely cytoplasmic to increased basolateral surface distribution of AE1 and apical polarization of B1-V-ATPase. The latter results are consistent with the supposition that morphological adaptation from the pyramidal to the rectangular shape reflects a transition toward a more "active" configuration. In addition, α-ICs in OMCDo exhibited cellular morphology strikingly similar to dendritic cells that may reflect a newly defined ancillary function in immune defense of the kidney.
- intercalated cell
- anion exchanger 1
- Copyright © 2015, American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology