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thumbnail cortex h&e 4x thumbnail cortex h&e 10x
thumbnail cortex h&e 20x thumbnail cortex h&e 40x

The mouse kidney is covered by a thin connective tissue capsule and consists of, from its convex border to its concave border, a cortex, a medulla, and a single papilla that can be very long. The papilla drains into the renal pelvis, the anterior end of the ureter, which joins the kidney on its concave border at the hilus. The functional unit of the kidney is the nephron, which comprises a glomerulus (a capillary bed that is particularly small in the mouse) surrounded by the Bowman’s capsule, a proximal convoluted tubule, descending and ascending portions of the straight loop of Henle, and a distal convoluted tubule. In between the nephrons is delicate, richly vascular connective tissue. Nephrons drain into collecting tubules, which join to form larger collecting ducts (Bellini ducts) that open into the renal pelvis. In mice, particularly adult males, proteinuria is normal.

The kidney cortex contains the glomeruli, which are particularly small in the mouse, and the proximal and distal convoluted tubules. The Bowman’s capsule surrounding the glomeruli displays sexual dimorphism in the mouse: The epithelium lining the parietal surface of the Bowman's capsule is squamous in adult female mice (as it is in most animals), but it is frequently cuboidal in adult male mice. The proximal convoluted tubules are lined by cuboidal epithelium with microvilli, while the cuboidal epithelium of the distal convoluted tubules has no microvilli.

The micrographs depict the kidney cortex of a female mouse. The capsule of the kidney is visible in the 4X micrograph. The 4X and 10X micrographs display the numerous glomeruli and the convoluted tubes present in the cortex. The 20X and 40X micrographs show the cuboidal epithelia of the convoluted tubes, which is covered with microvilli in the proximal but not in the distal convoluted tubes. The 20X and 40X micrographs further present a glomerulus and surrounding Bowman’s capsule, showing that the Bowman’s capsular epithelium is squamous in the female mouse. The 40X micrograph of the male kidney cortex demonstrates that the same epithelium is cuboidal in the male mouse.

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