In acute nephrotoxic nephritis, polymorphonuclear leukocytes (polymorphs) accumulated in large numbers in the glomeruli in the first 12 hours. The endothelial cells were dislodged by the polymorphs which then came to lie immediately adjacent to the glomerular basement membranes. Ultrastructural changes in neither polymorphs nor basement membranes were observed.
Depletion of polymorphs in both rats and rabbits prevented the development of proteinuria. This occurred when doses of nephrotoxic globulin were employed that produced proteinurias of as much as 1800 mg/kg/24 hours in intact rabbits, or enough to yield near maximal immediate proteinuria in intact rats. In addition, measurable glomerular damage was frequently averted until the onset of the secondary stage of NTN. Controls indicated that the polymorph depleted animals exhibited minimal non-specific changes in the blood, that the ability of their vascular beds to react to stimuli was not affected, and that deposition of nephrotoxic antibody and C' in the glomeruli was not inhibited. Elimination of polymorphs from the circulation was only partially effective in preventing glomerular damage when large doses of nephrotoxic globulin were used. This indicated that under these circumstances, a polymorph independent glomerular injury may also take place in first stage nephrotoxic nephritis.
An indirect role of C', i.e., the accumulation of polymorphs, in bringing about glomerular injury in first stage nephrotoxic nephritis was apparent. When rabbit nephrotoxic globulin was injected into rats depleted of C', or when duck nephrotoxic globulin that fixed C' poorly was injected into normal rats, C' failed to bind with the antibody along glomerular basement membranes and polymorphs did not accumulate.