Background: Cystogenesis in polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is likely accelerated by various renal insults, including crystal deposition, that activate renal tubule obstruction and dilation. We developed a capsule-based device that can be applied to cystic kidneys to restrict tubular lumen dilatation and cyst expansion. Methods: Kidney capsule devices were designed from computed tomography images of wild-type and Cy/+ rats. Capsule devices were surgically implanted on kidneys in six surgical sessions over a period of 14 months in 7 wild-type rats of 6.5–8 weeks (3 sham operations, 2 right, 2 left) and 6 Cy/+ rats of 6.5 weeks (2 sham, 3 left, 1 bilateral). After surgery, the rats were followed for 5.4–12.4 weeks’ growth and sacrificed to retrieve the kidneys. During the follow-up, serum creatinine was measured and retrieved kidneys were weighed. Histological analysis including cystic area measurement and immunohistochemistry was performed. Results: Morphometric capsule devices were configured and developed by an image processing technique and produced using a 3D printer. Encapsulated Cy/+ kidneys (n = 5; mean weight 3.64 g) were consistently smaller in size (by 21–36%; p < 0.001) than unencapsulated Cy/+ kidneys (n = 7; mean weight 5.52 g). Encapsulated Cy/+ kidneys (mean %cyst area: 29.4%) showed smaller histological cystic area (by 28–58%; p < 0.001) than unencapsulated Cy/+ kidneys (mean %cyst area 48.6%). Cell proliferation and macrophages were also markedly reduced in encapsulated Cy/+ kidneys, compared to unencapsulated Cy/+ kidneys. Conclusions: We report a pilot feasibility study for the application of a novel morphometric 3D capsule device to the Cy/+ rat model showing restricted kidney volume expansion on polycystic kidney disease progression.
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