Renal hypoxia may play an important role in the progression of diabetic nephropathy. However, tools that noninvasively and quantitatively measure oxygen tension in the kidney are lacking. Here, we evaluated the feasibility of a noninvasive and quantitative imaging technique using dynamic nuclear polarization magnetic resonance imaging (DNP-MRI) in combination with the oxygen-sensitive paramagnetic agent OX63 for measuring oxygen tension in the kidney. Our results demonstrate that the DNP-MRI technique can yield quantitative maps of oxygen tension in the mouse renal cortex. Using this procedure, we also showed that oxygen tension was less elevated in the renal cortex of both streptozotocin-induced type 1 diabetic mice and db/db mice, a model of type 2 diabetes, than in the renal cortex of age-matched control mice of each respective model. Oxygen tension in streptozotocin-exposed mice was significantly improved by insulin treatment. Thus, the noninvasive and quantitative DNP-MRI technique appears to be useful for studying the pathophysiological role of hypoxia.
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