Safe and (Ultra)Sound: Observing Kidney Damage Real-Time at Super High Resolutions
작성자. Public Relations Team
Scientists successfully monitor chronic kidney disease progression in mice through an emerging technique: super-resolution ultrasonography
Acute kidney injuries can sometimes trigger the deterioration of small blood vessels and capillaries, leading to chronic kidney disease. But, this process is not completely understood. Now, for the first time, researchers from Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, Korea, in collaboration with teams from the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, USA, have successfully used ultrasound super-resolution (USR) imaging to observe this process in live mice, revealing the promise of USR as a powerful diagnostic and research tool, and enhancing understanding of the disease.
Dr Jaesok Yu, lead author of this study, sitting at his desk in the Department of Robotics Engineering at DGIST. ⓒDGIST
The kidneys play a vital role in the body by continuously cleaning up or purifying the blood in circulation. But, progressive damage to them over time can cause chronic kidney disease (CKD), wherein a kidney irreversibly fails. One of the ways in which CKD develops is “rarefaction,” or the gradual deterioration of small blood vessels and capillaries (collectively called microvascular structures), which is triggered when an acute kidney injury (AKI) occurs. However, imaging techniques commonly used in medical research are not of high enough resolution to be able to clearly observe this process. As a consequence, understanding of this disease progression mechanism has been limited.
In recent years, however, a game-changing ultrasonography technique, called ultrasound-super resolution (USR) imaging, has emerged, which has the potential to revolutionize diagnostics in the medical field. Recognizing this potential, Dr. Jaesok Yu and his research team from Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, Korea, in collaboration with teams from the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, USA, applied USR imaging to observing the evolution of microvascular rarefaction following AKI. Their study is published in Kidney International.
Dr. Yu and team induced AKI in mice by temporarily restricting blood flow to one of their kidneys using standard surgical practices for animal models. They then imaged both healthy and injured kidneys through USR after 21 and 42 days, observing for expected changes in various objective parameters of CKD progression: kidney size, blood volume, and microvascular density and tortuosity.
Their images were remarkably sharp depictions of CKD progression. Dr. Yu explains: “USR imaging provides unmatched resolution compared with conventional ultrasound approaches. This is achieved through a combination of image processing techniques, faster frame rates, and the use of non-toxic contrast agents. Moreover, it is cheaper and safer than other imaging technologies, including magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans.”
Their success not only enables a better understanding of this disease mechanism, but also reaffirms the potential of USR imaging as a powerful diagnostic tool. Excited about the results, Dr. Yu comments: “This is the first preclinical trial to successfully quantify microvascular rarefactions and monitor the progression of acute kidney injury to chronic kidney disease in small animal models. But this is only the beginning. Exploring the unprecedented resolution offered by USR imaging will allow us to further understand the underlying mechanisms of many other diseases.”
Dr. Yu envisions a future in which USR imaging has been adopted for use with the standard ultrasound probe seen in hospitals, enabling superior assessment of kidney disease severity. Perhaps this future is not far away!
Ultrasound super-resolution imaging has the potential to become a powerful diagnostic tool to observe the finer vascular structures of the kidneys and other organs. Photo courtesy: Shutterstock.
--- For more information, contact:
Jaesok Yu, Assistant Professor
Department of Robotics Engineering,
Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST)
Qiyang Chen, Jaesok Yu], Brittney M. Rush, Sean D. Stocker, Roderick J. Tan, Kang Kim , "Ultrasound super-resolution imaging provides a noninvasive assessment of renal microvasculature changes during mouse acute kidney injury", Kidney International, In press, 3rd March 2020.