Mapping the cytoskeletal architecture of renal tubules and surrounding peritubular capillaries in the kidney

Girishkumar Kaitholil Kumaran, Israel Hanukoglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human kidney includes ~1 million nephrons which are long U-shaped tubules with convoluted segments that serve as filtration units. During the passage of the ultrafiltrate through a nephron, electrolytes and nutrients are re-absorbed into peritubular capillaries. The fluid remaining in the distal end of the renal tubules flows through the collecting ducts into the ureter. In this study, we generated high-resolution images of mouse kidney sections using confocal microscopy with only two fluorescently tagged biomarkers, F-actin binding phalloidin and CD34 antibodies as a marker for blood vessels. In tile-scan images of entire sections of mouse kidney (composed of >1000 images), the tubule segments are easily identifiable by their F-actin bundles on cell borders and the outlines of the peritubular capillaries by CD34 immunofluorescence. In the inner stripe of the medulla, the vascular bundles composed of vasa recta (straight vessels) could be easily distinguished from the peritubular capillaries by their full circular shapes. The highly vascular inner medulla and the papilla similarly have straight capillaries. About 95% of kidney volume is composed of renal tubules and blood vessels. Thus, our results show that relatively simple cytoskeletal mapping can be used to visualize the structural organization of the kidney. This method can also be applied to examine pathological changes in the kidney.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • CD34
  • actin
  • cell membrane
  • cytoskeleton
  • nephron


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