Purpose: To test, in a murine model of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO), whether the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging-derived apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) changes during the progression of renal fibrosis and correlates with the histopathologic changes observed in renal fibrogenesis.
Materials and methods: This study was approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. A UUO was created in each of 14 mice. In five mice, longitudinal diffusion-weighted (DW) imaging was performed before the UUO (day 0) and on days 3 and 7 after the UUO and was followed by histopathologic analysis. The nine remaining mice were examined with cross-sectional studies on days 0 (n = 4) and 3 (n = 5). ADCs were measured with a spin-echo echo-planar sequence at five b values ranging from 350 to 1200 sec/mm(2). Differences in ADC among the time points and between the sides were assessed by using Tukey-Kramer and Student t tests, respectively. ADC was correlated with cell density and alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA, a marker of myofibroblasts) expression at linear regression analysis.
Results: Histopathologic examination revealed typical renal fibrosis on the side with UUO. The ADC decreased over time on the UUO side, from (1.02 +/- 0.06 [standard deviation]) x 10(-3) mm(2)/sec on day 0 to (0.70 +/- 0.08) x 10(-3) mm(2)/sec on day 3 (P < .001) and (0.57 +/- 0.10) x 10(-3) mm(2)/sec on day 7 (P < .001). The percentage change in ADC was greater on the UUO side than on the contralateral side on days 3 (29% +/- 9, P = .05) and 7 (44% +/- 11, P < .01). ADC correlated with both increased cell density and increased alpha-SMA expression (P < .001 for both correlations).
Conclusion: An ADC decrease in renal fibrosis is associated with an increased number of cells, including fibroblasts. ADC has the potential to serve as a sensitive noninvasive biomarker of renal fibrosis.
Copyright RSNA, 2010