The developing perinatal kidney is particularly sensitive to radiation. The pathogenesis of the radiation-induced lesion is related to the destruction of outer cortical developing nephrons and direct radiation injury with secondary hemodynamic alterations in remnant nephrons. In this study, which is part of a life span investigation of the effects of whole-body γ radiation during prenatal and early postnatal life, dogs were given 0, 0.16, 0.83, or 1.25 Gy irradiation at either 55 days postcoitus or 2 days postpartum and were examined morphometrically and histopathologically at 70 days of age. Although irradiated dogs showed no reduction in the total number of nephrons per kidney, there was a significant increase in the total number and relative percentage of immature, dysplastic glomeruli. In addition, deeper cortical glomeruli of irradiated kidneys exhibited mesangial sclerosis similar to that associated with progressive renal failure in our previous studies. These findings are in accord with those reported at doses of 2.24 to 3.57 Gy and demonstrate that the perinatal kidney is affected by radiation doses much lower than previously demonstrated.

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