Aim: Chronic renal failure (CRF) is histopathologically characterized by tubulointerstitial fibrosis in addition to glomerulosclerosis. Although mast cells are known to infiltrate into the kidneys with chronic inflammation, we know little about their contribution to the pathogenesis of renal fibrosis associated with CRF. The aim of this study was to reveal the involvement of mast cells in the progression of renal fibrosis in CRF. Methods: Using a rat model with CRF resulting from 5/6 nephrectomy, we examined the histopathological features of the kidneys and the infiltration of mast cells into the renal interstitium. By treating the rats with a potent mast cell stabilizer, tranilast, we also examined the involvement of mast cells in the progression of renal fibrosis associated with CRF. Results: The CRF rat kidneys were characterized by the wide staining of collagen III and increased number of myofibroblasts, indicating the progression of renal fibrosis. Compared to T-lymphocytes or macrophages, the number of tryptase-positive mast cells was much smaller within the fibrotic kidneys and they did not proliferate in situ. The mRNA expression of mast cell-derived fibroblast-activating factors was not increased in the renal cortex isolated from CRF rat kidneys. Treatment with tranilast did not suppress the progression of renal fibrosis, nor did it ameliorate the progression of glomerulosclerosis and the interstitial proliferation of inflammatory leukocytes. Conclusions: This study demonstrated for the first time that mast cells are neither increased nor activated in the fibrotic kidneys of CRF rats. Compared to T-lymphocytes or macrophages that proliferate in situ within the fibrotic kidneys, mast cells were less likely to contribute to the progression of renal fibrosis associated with CRF.
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