Loss of N-cadherin and alpha-catenin in the proximal tubules of aging male Fischer 344 rats. Academic Article uri icon


  • Aging is associated with a loss of renal reserve, and increased sensitivity to either xenobiotic or physiologic insult. Given the critical role of the cadherin/catenin complex in establishing and maintaining the integrity and polarity of tubular epithelial cells, it was hypothesized that aging was associated with alterations in renal cadherin/catenin complexes. Histological assessment of aged (24 months) kidneys harvested from male Fischer 344 rats demonstrates mild degeneration of proximal tubules, multifocal chronic lymphocytic infiltration, moderate development of protein casts inside tubules, and tubular dilatation or degeneration. Western blot analysis revealed that N-cadherin protein expression is not constant over 24 months. N-cadherin expression increased from 4 to 9 months, with peak levels at 9 and 13 months. A decrease in expression was seen at 19 months and an almost complete loss of expression was seen at 24 months. In contrast, the expression of E- and Ksp-cadherin was constant over 24 months. A loss of alpha-catenin at was seen at 19 and 24 months in the absence of changes in beta-, gamma-, and p120-catenin. This pattern of N-cadherin expression (increase followed by decrease) was confirmed by real-time PCR analysis, which demonstrated a similar pattern as the Western blot, suggesting that the loss of N-cadherin protein was due to decreased gene expression. The loss of N-cadherin was specific for the kidney, as no changes in N-cadherin expression in the liver, brain, or testes were seen during aging. The conclusion that loss of N-cadherin expression is a critical component of the renal dysfunction associated with aging is supported by the finding that caloric restriction attenuates the loss of N-cadherin, as well as the finding that a significant loss of N-cadherin is seen in the kidneys of ZDF x SHHF rats, a genetic model of end-stage renal disease. Cadherin and catenin expression was further analyzed by immunofluorescence. A significant loss of staining of both N-cadherin and alpha-catenin was seen in the proximal tubules of rats at 24 months. Interestingly, this corresponded with delocalization of the alpha-1 subunit of the Na+K+-ATPase, i.e. aberrant staining on cell-cell borders and some indication of apical staining in proximal tubules. Taken together, these data suggest that aging is associated with decreased expression of N-cadherin and alpha-catenin and is associated with a loss of cell polarity.

published proceedings

  • Mech Ageing Dev

author list (cited authors)

  • Jung, K., Dean, D., Jiang, J., Gaylor, S., Griffith, W. H., Burghardt, R. C., & Parrish, A. R.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Jung, Ki-Yoon||Dean, Dana||Jiang, Jing||Gaylor, Susan||Griffith, William H||Burghardt, Robert C||Parrish, Alan R

publication date

  • June 2004