The use of microcomputed tomography to study microvasculature in small rodents

Michael D. Bentley, Maria C. Ortiz, Erik L. Ritman, J. Carlos Romero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Appropriate nephron function is dependent on the intrarenal arrangement of blood vessels. The preferred and primary means to study the architecture of intrarenal circulation has been by filling it with opaque substances such as india ink, radio-opaque contrast material, or various polymers for study by light or scanning electron microscopy. With such methodologies, superficial vessels may obscure deep vessels and little quantitative information may be obtained. Serial-section microtomy has not been practical because of problems relating to alignment and registration of adjacent sections, lost sections, and preparation time and effort. Microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) overcomes such limitations and provides a means to study the three-dimensional architecture of filled vessels within an intact rodent kidney and to obtain more quantitative information. As an example of micro-CT's capabilities, we review the use of micro-CT to study the alterations in renal microvasculature caused by the development of liver cirrhosis after chronic bile duct ligation. In this example, micro-CT evidence shows a selective decrease in cortical vascular filling in the kidney, with a maintenance of medullary vascular filling. These changes may contribute to the salt and water retention that accompanies cirrhosis. These results indicate that micro-CT is a promising method to evaluate renal vascular architecture in the intact rodent kidney relative to physiological and pathological function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1267-R1279
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5 51-5
StatePublished - 2002


  • Imaging
  • Kidney
  • Microcirculation
  • Vasculature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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