Visualization of podocyte substructure with structured illumination microscopy (SIM): A new approach to nephrotic disease

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


A detailed microscopic analysis of renal podocyte substructure is essential to understand and diagnose nephrotic kidney disease. Currently only time consuming electron microscopy (EM) can resolve this substructure. We used structured illumination microscopy (SIM) to examine frozen sections of renal biopsies stained with an immunofluorescence marker for podocin, a protein localized to the perimeter of the podocyte foot processes and compared them with EM in both normal and nephrotic disease biopsies. SIM images of normal glomeruli revealed curvilinear patterns of podocin densely covering capillary walls similar to podocyte foot processes seen by EM. Podocin staining of all nephrotic disease biopsies were significantly different than normal, corresponding to and better visualizing effaced foot processes seen by EM. The findings support the first potential use of SIM in the diagnosis of nephrotic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-311
Number of pages10
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 6 2016



  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Medical and biological imaging
  • Medical optics and biotechnology
  • Microscopy
  • Optical diagnostics for medicine
  • Optical pathology
  • Superresolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biotechnology

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