Background: It has been demonstrated that embryonic kidneys (metanephroi) xenotransplanted into the omentum of adult recipients continue to develop and display immune protection due to their more naïve immune presentation. To date, this has been achieved using rat, pig and human metanephroi, with unilateral nephrectomy (UNX) of recipient rats a requisite of renal development. The aim of this study was to adapt this approach for use in mice and examine the parameters affecting successful onward development in this species. Methods: Metanephroi at embryonic age (E) 13.5 were transplanted either onto the body wall, abdominal fat pads or omentum of recipient isogenic C57/Bl6 mice using either sutures or polyglycolic acid mesh. Having established greatest success with polyglycolic acid mesh on the body wall, E12.5 and 15.5 days metanephroi from C57/Bl6 mice were then transplanted onto the body wall of control (non-pregnant non-UNX), UNX or 12.5 days post-coitum pregnant isogenic recipients. After 7 days, implanted tissue was harvested and examined using histology and immunohistochemistry for markers of renal maturation. The mean number of S-shaped bodies and glomeruli per section were recorded and statistically analysed for significant differences between all recipient groups and untransplanted metanephroi. The degree of development was scored qualitatively. Results: Transplanted E12.5 metanephroi developed S-shaped bodies and glomeruli in all recipient groups, although there were statistically higher numbers of S-shaped bodies in UNX (n = 2) and pregnant recipients (n = 9) than in control recipients (n = 4). Continued development, as indicated by mature vascularized glomeruli, was only observed in those E15.5 metanephroi transplanted into pregnant recipients (n = 11) with a 15.5-fold increase in S-shaped bodies and 4-fold increase in glomeruli compared with control transplants (n = 12). Conclusions: We have successfully established metanephros transplantation in mice and demonstrated enhancement of onward development of E12.5 metanephroi in response to both pregnancy and UNX. Using E15.5 metanephroi, continued development only occurred in pregnant recipients, implying pregnancy provides an environment conducive to continued organogenesis. This murine assay, when coupled with transgenically-tagged strains of mice, will allow the investigation of the relative contribution of donor and recipient cells to this process.

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