Background Glomerular volume increases when demand exceeds nephron supply, which may lead to glomerulosclerosis. It is unclear if determinants of glomerular volume are consistent between populations that differ by severity of comorbidities. Methods We studied kidney biopsy specimens from living kidney donors (n=2453) and patients who underwent radical nephrectomy for a renal tumor (n=780). We scanned specimen sections into high-resolution digital images, manually traced glomerular profiles, and calculated mean glomerular volumes using the Weibel–Gomez stereologic formula (separately for nonsclerosed glomeruli and globally sclerosed glomeruli). We then assessed the relationship of glomerular volume with age, clinical characteristics, and nephrosclerosis on biopsy specimen. Results Compared with kidney donors, patients with tumors were older and more frequently men, obese, diabetic, or hypertensive, had more glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis on biopsy specimen, and had 12% larger nonsclerosed glomeruli (P,0.001). In both populations, male sex, taller height, obesity, hypertension, and proteinuria associated with larger nonsclerosed glomeruli to a similar extent. In patients with tumors, diabetes, glomerulosclerosis .25%, and interstitial fibrosis .25% also associated with larger nonsclerosed glomeruli. Independent clinical predictors of larger nonsclerotic glomeruli were family history of ESRD, male sex, taller height, obesity, diabetes, and proteinuria. After adjustment for these characteristics, nonsclerotic glomerular volume did not differ between populations and was stable up to age 75 years, after which it decreased with age. Many of these findings were also evident with globally sclerotic glomerular volume. Conclusions Characteristics associated with glomerular volume are consistent between patient populations with low and high levels of comorbidity.
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