The purpose of this study is to evaluate the utility of high-resolution non-invasive endogenous high-field MRI methods for the longitudinal structural and quantitative assessments of mouse kidney disease using the model of unilateral ureter obstruction (UUO). T1-weighted, T2-weighted and magnetization transfer (MT) imaging protocols were optimized to improve the regional contrast in mouse kidney. Conventional T1 and T2 weighted images were collected in UUO mice on day 0 (~3h), day 1, day 3 and day 6 after injury, on a 7 T small animal MRI system. Cortical and medullary thickness, corticomedullary contrast and Magnetization Transfer Ratio (MTR) were assessed longitudinally. Masson trichrome staining was used to histologically assess changes in tissue microstructure. Over the course of UUO progression there were significant (p<0.05) changes in thickness of cortex and outer medulla, and regional changes in T2 signal intensity and MTR values. Histological changes included tubular cell death, tubular dilation, urine retention, and interstitial fibrosis, assessed by histology. The MRI measures of renal cortical and medullary atrophy, cortical-medullary differentiation and MTR changes provide an endogenous, non-invasive and quantitative evaluation of renal morphology and tissue composition during UUO progression.
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