Kidney hypoperfusion during episodes of systemic hypotension or after surgical procurement for transplantation can lead to tubular cell death via necrosis and apoptosis, which trigger a series of responses that promote repair. The factors that contribute to the repair phase after kidney injury are notwell understood. Using a urine proteomic screen in mice, we identified themacrophage-secreted chitinase-like protein Brp-39, the murine protein product of the chitinase 3-like 1 gene, as a critical component of this reparative response that serves to limit tubular cell apoptotic death via activation of Akt, improving animal survival after kidney ischemia/reperfusion. Examination of graded times of renal ischemia revealed a direct correlation between the degree of kidney injury and both Chi3l1/Brp-39 expression in the kidney and its levels in the urine. In samples collected from patients undergoing deceased-donor kidney transplantation, we found higher levels of the orthologous human protein, YKL-40, in urine and blood fromallografts subjected to sufficient peri-transplant ischemia to cause delayed graft function than from allografts with slow or immediate graft function. Urinary levels of YKL-40 obtained within hours of transplant predicted the need for subsequent dialysis in these patients. In summary, these data suggest that Brp-39/YKL-40 is a sensor of the degree of injury, a critical mediator of the reparative response, and a possible biomarker to identify patients at greatest risk of sustained renal failure after transplantation.
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