Researchers have unveiled a much closer, more detailed picture of
the microscopic details of cells in the kidney.
Helium ion scanning microscopy is a new imaging
technique that has been used to produce highly detailed
pictures of inorganic materials. Now, this approach
has been applied to biological specimens. In a recent
publication, scientists presented images of multiple
cell types and structures within the rat kidney. Kidney
elements that were examined included the glomerulus
and the branching appendages of podocytes, where
blood is iltered; the proximal convoluted tubule and
its brush border; and the collecting duct, which resorbs
water and regulates blood pH.
Images generated through helium ion scanning
microscopy are far more detailed than those produced
by scanning electron microscopy; the images in this
study were captured at a resolution of approximately
1.4 nanometers (a nanometer is one-one billionth of
a meter; for reference, the width of a human hair is
approximately 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers).
This technological breakthrough in ine-scale
visualization of cellular structures promises to allow
more detailed studies of the cellular structure within
tissues and facilitate scientists’ understanding of cell
architecture, organization, and the physical and spatial
relationships that are involved in organ function.
Rice WL, Van Hoek AN, Păunescu TG, et al. High resolution
helium ion scanning microscopy of the rat kidney. PLoS ONE
8: e57051, 2013.