Structured illumination microscopy as a diagnostic tool for nephrotic disease

Jonathan Nylk, James M. Pullman, Elaine C. Campbell, Frank J. Gunn-Moore, Michael B. Prystowsky, Kishan Dholakia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Nephrotic disease is a group of debilitating and sometimes lethal diseases affecting kidney function, specifically the loss of ability to retain vital proteins in the blood while smaller molecules are removed through filtration into the urine. Treatment routes are often dictated by microscopic analysis of kidney biopsies. Podocytes within the glomeruli of the kidney have many interdigitating projections (foot processes), which form the main filtration system. Nephrotic disease is characterised by the loss of this tightly interdigitating substructure and its observation by electron microscopy (EM) is necessitated as these structures are typically 250ô€€€500nm wide, with 40nm spacing. Diagnosis by EM is both expensive and time consuming; it can take up to one week to complete the preparation, imaging, and analysis of a single sample. We propose structured illumination microscopy (SIM) as an alternative, optical diagnostic tool. Our results show that SIM can resolve the structure of fluorescent probes tagged to podocin, a protein localised to the periphery of the podocyte foot processes. Three-dimensional podocin maps were acquired in healthy tissue and tissue from patients diagnosed with two different nephrotic disease states; minimal change disease and membranous nephropathy. These structures correlated well with EM images of the same structure. Preparation, imaging, and analysis could be achieved in several hours. Additionally, the volumetric information of the SIM images revealed morphological changes in disease states not observed by EM. This evidence supports the use of SIM as a diagnostic tool for nephrotic disease and can potentially reduce the time and cost per diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvanced Biomedical and Clinical Diagnostic and Surgical Guidance Systems XV
EditorsWarren S. Grundfest, Tuan Vo-Dinh, Anita Mahadevan-Jansen
ISBN (Electronic)9781510605497
StatePublished - 2017
EventAdvanced Biomedical and Clinical Diagnostic and Surgical Guidance Systems XV - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Jan 29 2017Jan 31 2017

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherAdvanced Biomedical and Clinical Diagnostic and Surgical Guidance Systems XV
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • Kidney disease
  • Nephrology; Optical pathology
  • SIM
  • Structured illumination microscopy
  • Superresolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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