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Measurement of glomerular volume in needle biopsy specimens

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn White, Professor Rudy Bilous


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Background. Various methods have been used to determine mean glomerular volume, some requiring measurement of over 30 glomerular profiles for a satisfactory estimate. Needle biopsies are useful diagnostically, but if small, provide insufficient tissue for the use of such methods. Methods. We performed glomerular volume measurements on renal biopsies from 10 normotensive, non-uraemic patients with Type 1 diabetes. Sections were taken at 10 μm intervals through 10 glomeruli per biopsy and points landing on glomerular tuft counted under light microscopy. Volume was calculated from the measured cross-sectional area and known section thickness using the Cavalieri principle. Results. Estimating the volume of 10 glomeruli per biopsy gave an overall mean glomerular volume of 4.21 x 106 μm3 and standard deviation between patient means 1.23 x 106 μm3. Using a sample size of five glomeruli per biopsy only increased the standard deviation between patient mean values by 3%. Using sections taken at 30 μm intervals made little difference to the mean glomerular volume and standard deviation estimates (MGV 4.20 x 106 μm3 ± 1.24). Further increases in the sectioning interval resulted in an appreciable increase in the variance of the estimate. Conclusions. The results suggest that a satisfactory estimate of mean glomerular volume can be obtained from a sample size of five glomeruli per biopsy using a sectioning interval of 20 μm. This represents a great saving in analysis time and effort, making widespread use of this method of glomerular volume measurement in renal disease more practicable, in both research and clinical settings.

Publication metadata

Author(s): White KE; Bilous RW; MacLeod JM; Tate H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Year: 2000

Volume: 15

Issue: 2

Pages: 239-243

Print publication date: 01/01/2000

ISSN (print): 0931-0509

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2385

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ndt/15.2.239

PubMed id: 10648672


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