American journal of translational research

Fascin-1 is released from proximal tubular cells in response to calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) and correlates with isometric vacuolization in kidney transplanted patients.

PMID 28979691


Immunosuppression based on calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) has greatly improved organ transplantation, although subsequent nephrotoxicity significantly hinders treatment success. There are no currently available specific soluble biomarkers for CNI-induced nephrotoxicity and diagnosis relies on renal biopsy, which is costly, invasive and may cause complications. Accordingly, identification of non-invasive biomarkers distinguishing CNI-induced kidney tubular damage from that of other etiologies would greatly improve diagnosis and enable more precise dosage adjustment. For this purpose, HK-2 cells, widely used to model human proximal tubule, were treated with CNIs cyclosporine-A and FK506, or staurosporine as a calcineurin-independent toxic compound, and secretomes of each treatment were analyzed by proteomic means. Among the differentially secreted proteins identified, only fascin-1 was specifically released by both CNIs but not by staurosporine. To validate fascin-1 as a biomarker of CNI-induced tubular toxicity, fascin-1 levels were analyzed in serum and urine from kidney-transplanted patients under CNIs treatment presenting or not isometric vacuolization (IV), which nowadays represents the main histological hallmark of CNI-induced tubular damage. Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and healthy volunteers were used as controls. Our results show that urinary fascin-1 was only significantly elevated in the subset of CNI-treated patients presenting IV. Moreover, fascin-1 anticipated the rise of sCr levels in serially collected urine samples from CNI-treated pulmonary-transplanted patients, where a decline in kidney function and serum creatinine (sCr) elevation was mainly attributed to CNIs treatment. In conclusion, our results point towards fascin-1 as a putative soluble biomarker of CNI-induced damage in the kidney tubular compartment.