MRI Techniques to Measure Whole-Kidney Nephron

Project: Research project

Grant Details


The broad, long-term goal of this work is to measure kidney nephron endowment in humans, in vivo. Each nephron contains a glomerulus, which functions as a high-pressure filter of blood macromolecules. Deficits in nephrons and glomeruli have been correlated with renal diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. There is currently no noninvasive technique to count the total number of functioning renal glomeruli and nephrons in vivo. Such a technique would enable studies of kidney and systemic disease in humans, and would open a new area of animal studies of the susceptibility to renal disease. We propose that contrastenhanced MRI, using MRI-detectable nanoparticles targeted to the glomerular basement membrane, can be used to accurately count the total number of glomeruli in the whole, intact kidney. This proposal is focused on establishing this technique in mice. We further propose to assess the accuracy of the technique in the presence of systemic deficits in nephron endowment in mice. Once completed, the proposed work will open the possibility of real-time, in vivo glomerular counts in studies of renal and systemic diseases in animals and humans. The PI Drs. Wu is the director of ASU-Mayo Clinic Imaging Informatics Laboratory located at School of Computing, Informatics, Decision Systems Engineering, Arizona State University. The lab has conducted and is currently conducting a number of projects aiming at bringing together cutting-edge academic research and important problems related to medical imaging process and analytics. Dr. Wu has over 12 years experience in informatics including developing large scale information system for healthcare enterprise, development machine learning algorithms and tools for medical imaging data. In this project, Dr. Wu will advise one Ph.D. student to 1. Develop imaging segmentation pipeline to segment glomeruli 2. Derive important segmentation based features for further kidney staging analysis.
Effective start/end date8/3/137/31/15


  • HHS-NIH: National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): $52,158.00