Ultrastructure expansion microscopy (U-ExM) involves the physical magnification of specimens embedded in hydrogels, which allows for super-resolution imaging of subcellular structures using a conventional diffraction-limited microscope. Methods for expansion microscopy exist for several organisms, organs, and cell types, and used to analyze cellular organelles and substructures in nanoscale resolution. Here, we describe a simple step-by-step U-ExM protocol for the expansion, immunostaining, imaging, and analysis of cytoskeletal and organellar structures in kidney tissue. We detail the critical modified steps to optimize isotropic kidney tissue expansion, and preservation of the renal cell structures of interest. We demonstrate the utility of the approach using several markers of renal cell types, centrioles, cilia, the extracellular matrix, and other cytoskeletal elements. Finally, we show that the approach works well on mouse and human kidney samples that were preserved using different fixation and embedding conditions. Overall, this protocol provides a simple and cost-effective approach to analyze both preclinical and clinical renal samples in high detail, using conventional lab supplies and standard widefield or confocal microscopy.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • basement membrane
  • centriole
  • cilium
  • nephron
  • podocytes
  • polycystic kidney disease
  • renal

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