Super-Resolution Ultrasound Imaging Provides Quantification of the Renal Cortical and Medullary Vasculature in Obese Zucker Rats: A Pilot Study

Stinne Byrholdt Søgaard*, Sofie Bech Andersen, Iman Taghavi, Carlos Armando Villagómez Hoyos, Christina Christoffersen, Kristoffer Lindskov Hansen, Jørgen Arendt Jensen, Michael Bachmann Nielsen, Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Obesity is a risk factor of chronic kidney disease (CKD), leading to alterations in the renal vascular structure. This study tested if renal vascular density and tortuosity was quantifiable in vivo in obese rats using microbubble-based super-resolution ultrasound imaging. The kidneys of two 11-week-old and two 20-week-old male obese Zucker rats were compared with age-matched male lean Zucker rats. The super-resolution ultrasound images were manually divided into inner me-dulla, outer medulla, and cortex, and each area was subdivided into arteries and veins. We quanti-fied vascular density and tortuosity, number of detected microbubbles, and generated tracks. For comparison, we assessed glomerular filtration rate, albumin/creatinine ratio, and renal histology to evaluate CKD. The number of detected microbubbles and generated tracks varied between animals and significantly affected quantification of vessel density. In areas with a comparable number of tracks, density increased in the obese animals, concomitant with a decrease in glomerular filtration rate and an increase in albumin/creatinine ratio, but without any pathology in the histological stain-ing. The results indicate that super-resolution ultrasound imaging can be used to quantify structural alterations in the renal vasculature. Techniques to generate more comparable number of microbub-ble tracks and confirmation of the findings in larger-scale studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1626
Issue number7
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Image analysis
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Nephropathy
  • Obesity
  • Ultrasound localization microscopy


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