Multiphoton fluorescence microscopy of the live kidney in health and disease

J Biomed Opt. 2014 Feb;19(2):020901. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.19.2.020901.


The structural and functional heterogeneity of the kidney ensures a diversity of response in health and disease. Multiphoton microscopy has improved our understanding of kidney physiology and pathophysiology by enabling the visualization of the living kidney in comparison with the static view of previous technologies. The use of multiphoton microscopy with rodent models in conjunction with endogenous fluorescence and exogenous infused dyes permits the measurement of renal processes, such as glomerular permeability, juxtaglomerular apparatus function, tubulointerstitial function, tubulovascular interactions, vascular flow rate, and the intrarenal renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Subcellular processes, including mitochondrial dynamics, reactive oxygen species production, cytosolic ion concentrations, and death processes apoptosis and necrosis, can also be measured by multiphoton microscopy. This has allowed valuable insight into the pathophysiology of diabetic nephropathy, renal ischemia-reperfusion injury, hypertensive nephropathy, as well as inflammatory responses of the kidney. The current review presents an overview of multiphoton microscopy with a focus on techniques for imaging the kidney and gives examples of instances where multiphoton microscopy has been utilized to study renal pathophysiology in the living kidney. With continued advancements in the field of biological optics and increased adoption in experimental nephrology, multiphoton microscopy will undoubtedly continue to create new paradigms in kidney disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology*
  • Kidney* / anatomy & histology
  • Kidney* / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton*
  • Rats