Lead is a widespread environmental contaminant, found in air, canned food, drinking water and paints, creating environmental pollution. Lead is capable of damaging vital organs especially the kidneys because it is the main route of lead excretion. The purpose of the present work was to determine the ultra-structural effects of lead acetate on the kidneys of albino rats, who are given lead acetate in their drinking water through oro-gastric intubation in both therapeutic (group A) and sub-lethal (group B) doses for 6 months.
The glomerular capillary wall in the kidneys of group A rats showed mild changes in the form of partial fusion of the secondary foot processes of podocytes, while the kidneys of group B rats showed marked changes in the form of diminution of fenestrated endothelia and marked reduction of secondary foot processes of podocytes. The proximal convoluted tubules in the kidneys of group A rats showed mild changes in the form of absence of both basal striations and brush border with disorientation of deep basal infoldings of the cell membrane. The proximal tubules in the kidneys of group B rats showed marked changes in the form of multiple intracytoplasmic vacuoles, multiple lysosomes, multiple degenerated mitochondria and irregular thickened basement membrane. Kidneys of animals left to recover in group A showed complete recovery, while only partial recovery was detected in group B.