Biomarkers and the role of mast cells as facilitators of inflammation and fibrosis in chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a clinical syndrome with many adverse sequelae and is currently a major global health and economic burden. Regardless of aetiology, inflammation and fibrosis are common manifestations of CKD. Unfortunately, the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are poorly understood, and robust prognostic and early diagnostic biomarkers of CKD are lacking. One immune cell population that has received little attention in the context of CKD is mast cells (MCs). This mini review will examine the role of MCs as facilitators of kidney inflammation and fibrosis, propose a mechanistic structure for MCs in CKD, and give consideration to biomarkers specific for MC activation that can be deployed clinically. MCs are derived from haematopoietic stem cells. They are characterised by electron-dense granules in the cytoplasm, filled with preformed mediators. MCs can synthesise a range of bio-active compounds. Activation of MCs modulates an innate immune and adaptive effector response. Increased MC counts have been observed in animal models of kidney disease and a range of kidney diseases in humans where MC presence has been linked to biomarkers of kidney function and tissue damage. To further implicate MCs in CKD, several chemokines, cytokines and proteases released by MCs have been observed in their own right in various kidney diseases and linked to progressive CKD. One compound released by MCs that is of particular interest is the MC-specific protease tryptase. This protease is capable of activating the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) protease activated receptor-2 (PAR-2). PAR-2 is widely expressed throughout the kidney and highly expressed in the tubular epithelial cells where its activation induces robust inflammatory and fibrotic responses. Novel prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers of CKD are needed. MC-specific proteases [tryptase, chymase and carboxypeptidase A3 (CPA3)] are easily detectable in the blood but questionably in the urine. This review aims to promote these as prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers in the context of CKD.