Total kidney and cyst volumes have been used to quantify disease progression in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), but a causal relationship with progression to renal failure has not been demonstrated. Advanced image processing recently allowed to quantify extracystic tissue, and to identify an additional tissue component named "intermediate," appearing hypoenhanced on contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT). The aim of this study is to provide a histological characterization of intermediate volume, investigate its relation with renal function, and provide preliminary evidence of its role in long-term prediction of functional loss. Three ADPKD patients underwent contrast-enhanced CT scans before nephrectomy. Histological samples of intermediate volume were drawn from the excised kidneys, and stained with hematoxylin and eosin and with saturated picrosirius solution for histological analysis. Intermediate volume showed major structural changes, characterized by tubular dilation and atrophy, microcysts, inflammatory cell infiltrate, vascular sclerosis, and extended peritubular interstitial fibrosis. A significant correlation (r = -0.69, P < 0.001) between relative intermediate volume and baseline renal function was found in 21 ADPKD patients. Long-term prediction of renal functional loss was investigated in an independent cohort of 13 ADPKD patients, followed for 3 to 8 years. Intermediate volume, but not total kidney or cyst volume, significantly correlated with glomerular filtration rate decline (r = -0.79, P < 0.005). These findings suggest that intermediate volume may represent a suitable surrogate marker of ADPKD progression and a novel therapeutic target.
Copyright © 2011 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.