Background Age, CKD risk factors, and kidney function are associated with larger glomerular volume and a higher percentage of globally sclerotic glomeruli. Knowledge of how these associations may differ by cortical depth is limited. Methods To investigate glomerular volume and glomerulosclerosis across different depths of cortex, we studied wedge sections of the renal parenchyma from 812 patients who underwent a radical nephrectomy (for a tumor), separately characterizing glomeruli in the superficial (subcapsular), middle, and deep (juxta-medullary) regions. We compared the association of mean nonsclerotic glomerular volume and of glomerulosclerosis (measured as the percentage of globally sclerotic glomeruli) with age, obesity, diabetes, smoking, kidney function, and structural pathology in the superficial, middle, and deep regions. Results The superficial, middle, and deep regions showed significant differences in glomerular volume (0.0025, 0.0031, and 0.0028 µm3, respectively) and in glomerulosclerosis (18%, 7%, and 11%, respectively). There was a marked increase in glomerulosclerosis with age in the superficial region, but larger glomerular volume was not associated with age at any cortical depth. Glomerulosclerosis associated more strongly with arteriosclerosis and ischemic-appearing glomeruli in the superficial region. Hypertension, lower eGFR, and interstitial fibrosis associated with glomerulosclerosis and glomerular volume to a similar extent at any depth. Diabetes and proteinuria more strongly associated with glomerulosclerosis in the deep and middle regions, respectively, but neither associated with glomerular volume differently by depth. Obesity associated more strongly with glomerular volume in the superficial cortex. Conclusions Most clinical characteristic show similar associations with glomerulosclerosis and glomerulo-megaly at different cortical depths. Exceptions include age-related glomerulosclerosis, which appears to be an ischemic process and is more predominant in the superficial region.
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