MRI tools for assessment of microstructure and nephron function of the kidney

Luke Xie, Kevin M. Bennett, Chunlei Liu, G. Allan Johnson, Jeff Lei Zhang, Vivian S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


MRI can provide excellent detail of renal structure and function. Recently, novel MR contrast mechanisms and imaging tools have been developed to evaluate microscopic kidney structures including the tubules and glomeruli. Quantitative MRI can assess local tubular function and is able to determine the concentrating mechanism of the kidney noninvasively in real time. Measuring single nephron function is now a near possibility. In parallel to advancing imaging techniques for kidney microstructure is a need to carefully understand the relationship between the local source of MRI contrast and the underlying physiological change. The development of these imaging markers can impact the accurate diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease. This study reviews the novel tools to examine kidney microstructure and local function and demonstrates the application of these methods in renal pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F1109-F1124
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Cationized ferritin agents
  • Gadolinium-based contrast agent
  • Glomerular microstructure
  • Kidney concentrating mechanism
  • Kidney microstructure
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nephron architecture
  • Quantitative susceptibility mapping
  • Susceptibility tensor imaging


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