Label-free fluorescence lifetime and second harmonic generation imaging microscopy improves quantification of experimental renal fibrosis

Kidney Int. 2016 Nov;90(5):1123-1128. doi: 10.1016/j.kint.2016.06.030. Epub 2016 Aug 21.


All forms of progressive renal diseases develop a final pathway of tubulointerstitial fibrosis and glomerulosclerosis. Renal fibrosis is usually quantified using histological staining, a process that is time-consuming and pathologist dependent. Here we develop a fast and operator-independent method to measure fibrosis utilizing the murine unilateral ureteral obstruction model which manifests a time-dependent fibrotic increase in obstructed kidneys while the contralateral kidneys are used as controls. After ureteral obstruction, kidneys were analyzed at 7, 14, and 21 days. Fibrosis was quantified using fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) and second harmonic generation (SHG) in a Deep Imaging via Enhanced photon Recovery deep tissue imaging microscope. This microscope was developed for deep tissue along with second and third harmonic generation imaging and has extraordinary sensitivity toward harmonic generation. SHG data suggest the presence of more fibrillar collagen in the obstructed kidneys. The combination of short-wavelength FLIM and SHG analysis results in a robust assessment procedure independent of observer interpretation and let us create criteria to quantify the extent of fibrosis directly from the image. Thus, the FLIM-SHG technique shows remarkable improvement in quantification of renal fibrosis compared to standard histological techniques.

Keywords: FLIM; SHG; UUO; autofluorescence; collagen; fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibrosis
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence*
  • Nephrosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Optical Imaging*