Fluoride-associated ultrastructural changes and apoptosis in human renal tubule: a pilot study

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Abstract

The susceptibility of the kidneys to fluoride toxicity can largely be attributed to its anatomy and function. As the filtrate moves along the complex tubular structure of each nephron, it is concentrated in the proximal and distal tubules and collecting duct. It has been frequently observed that the children suffering from renal impairments also have some symptoms of dental and skeletal fluorosis. The findings suggest that fluoride somehow interferes with renal anatomy and physiology, which may lead to renal pathogenesis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the fluoride-associated nephrotoxicity. A total of 156 patients with childhood nephrotic syndrome were screened and it was observed that 32 of them had significantly high levels (p ≤ 0.05) of fluoride in urine (4.01 ± 1.83 ppm) and serum (0.1 ± 0.013 ppm). On the basis of urinary fluoride concentration, patients were divided into two groups, namely group 1 (G-1) (n = 32) containing normal urine fluoride (0.61 ± 0.17 ppm) and group 2 (G-2) (n = 32) having high urine fluoride concentration (4.01 ± 1.83 ppm). Age-matched healthy subjects (n = 33) having normal levels of urinary fluoride (0.56 ± 0.15 ppm) were included in the study as control (group 0 (G-0)). Kidney biopsies were taken from G-1 and G-2 only, who were subjected to ultrastructural (transmission electron microscopy) and apoptotic (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase deoxyuridine triphosphate nick end labeling) analysis. Various subcellular ultrastructural changes including nuclear disintegration, chromosome condensation, cytoplasmic ground substance lysis, and endoplasmic reticulum blebbing were observed. Increased levels of apoptosis were observed in high fluoride group (G-2) compared to normal fluoride group (G-1). Various degrees of fluoride-associated damages to the architecture of tubular epithelia, such as cell swelling and lysis, cytoplasmic vacuolation, nuclear condensation, apoptosis, and necrosis, were observed.

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