In vivo multiphoton imaging of mitochondrial structure and function during acute kidney injury

Kidney Int. 2013 Jan;83(1):72-83. doi: 10.1038/ki.2012.328. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of acute kidney injury due to ischemia and toxic drugs. Methods for imaging mitochondrial function in cells using confocal microscopy are well established; more recently, it was shown that these techniques can be utilized in ex vivo kidney tissue using multiphoton microscopy. We extended this approach in vivo and found that kidney mitochondrial structure and function can be imaged in anesthetized rodents using multiphoton excitation of endogenous and exogenous fluorophores. Mitochondrial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide increased markedly in rat kidneys in response to ischemia. Following intravenous injection, the mitochondrial membrane potential-dependent dye TMRM was taken up by proximal tubules; in response to ischemia, the membrane potential dissipated rapidly and mitochondria became shortened and fragmented in proximal tubules. In contrast, the mitochondrial membrane potential and structure were better maintained in distal tubules. Changes in mitochondrial structure, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, and membrane potential were found in the proximal, but not distal, tubules after gentamicin exposure. These changes were sporadic, highly variable among animals, and were preceded by changes in non-mitochondrial structures. Thus, real-time changes in mitochondrial structure and function can be imaged in rodent kidneys in vivo using multiphoton excitation of endogenous and exogenous fluorophores in response to ischemia-reperfusion injury or drug toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Gentamicins / adverse effects
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Ischemia / complications
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Kidney Tubules, Distal / metabolism
  • Kidney Tubules, Distal / pathology
  • Kidney Tubules, Distal / physiopathology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / pathology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton / methods*
  • Mitochondria / pathology*
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • NAD / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Gentamicins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NAD
  • Glutathione