The distribution of NADPH-dependent reductase activity in the rat cortex, outer medulla and inner medulla was investigated through biochemical and histochemical methods. Biochemical studies revealed reductase activity to be present in all three regions of the kidney with the highest specific activity observed in the inner medulla, followed by the cortex and the outer medulla. Activity in all three regions was inhibited by the aldose reductase inhibitors sorbinil, tolrestat and 7-hydroxychromone-2-carboxylic acid. Based on substrate utilization and response to sulfate ion and inhibitors, the inner medulla contains primarily aldose reducase (EC 22.214.171.124) while the cortex contains primarily aldehyde reductase (EC 126.96.36.199). The outer medulla contains a mixture of both enzymes. This distribution was confirmed by a radioimmunoassay for aldose reductase. Immunohistochemical investigations of the rat kidney with antibodies against rat lens aldose reductase and rat kidney aldehyd reductase revealed a similar distribution of these enzymes. Aldehyde reductase was immunohistochemically detected only in the cortex where it was localized in the proximal convoluted tubules. Immunoreactive aldose reductase was detected in Henle's loop at both the inner stripe of the outer medulla and in the inner medulla, and in the collecting tubules and the epithelial cell lining the pelvis of the inner medulla near the papilla. No specific immunohistochemical staining for aldose reductase was observed in the cortex. A similar immunohistochemical distribution of aldose reductase was also observed in the human kidney with antibodies against human placental aldose reductase.
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