Alloantigen presentation is an essential process in acute allorejection. In this context, we speculated on a pathogenic role of cathepsin S (Cat-S), a cysteine protease known to promote antigenic peptide loading into MHC class II and to activate protease-activated receptor (PAR)-2 on intrarenal microvascular endothelial and tubular epithelial cells. Single-cell RNA sequencing and immunostaining of human kidney allografts confirmed Cat-S expression in intrarenal mononuclear phagocytes. In vitro, Cat-S inhibition suppressed CD4 + T cell lymphocyte activation in a mixed lymphocyte assay. In vivo, we employed a mouse model of kidney transplantation that showed preemptive Cat-S inhibition significantly protected allografts from tubulitis and intimal arteritis. To determine the contribution of PAR-2 activation, first, Balb/c donor kidneys were transplanted into Balb/c recipient mice without signs of rejection at day 10. In contrast, kidneys from C57BL/6J donor mice revealed severe intimal arteritis, tubulitis, interstitial inflammation, and glomerulitis. Kidneys from Par2-deficient C57BL/6J mice revealed partial protection from tubulitis and lower intrarenal expression levels for Fasl, Tnfa, Ccl5, and Ccr5. Together, we conclude that Cat-S and PAR-2 contribute to immune dysregulation and kidney allograft rejection, possibly involving Cat-S-mediated activation of PAR-2 on recipient parenchymal cells in the allograft.
- animal model of transplantation
- cathepsin S
- kidney transplantation
- proteinase-activated receptor-2