This study was to examine whether mast cell chymase exists in human keloids and exerts its profibrotic effect via transforming growth factor-β1/Smad signaling pathway. The number of mast cells and the expression levels of chymase in keloids and normal skin were examined by immunohistochemistry assays. The mRNA expression and activity changes of chymase in keloids and normal skin were determined by real-time quantitative PCR and radioimmunoassay. After keloid fibroblasts were treated with different concentrations of chymase (0, 15, 30, 60, and 120 ng/mL) for various time periods, the proliferation of keloid fibroblasts, collagen synthesis, mRNA and protein expression of TGF-β1, and the protein expression of phosphorylated Smad2/3, Smad2/3 and Smad7 were investigated using MTT assay, ELISA and Western blotting. Mast cells and chymase exist in keloid. Gene expression and activity of mast cell chymase in keloid are significantly higher than those in normal skin. Chymase promotes keloid fibroblast proliferation and collagen synthesis by activating TGF-β1. The activation of Smad protein signaling pathway by chymase is related to the elevated P-Smad protein expression in keloid fibroblasts. Our data demonstrated that mast cell chymase plays an important role in keloid formation through TGF-β1/Smad signaling pathway.
Keywords: Mast cell chymase; Smad; fibroblast; keloid; transforming growth factor-β1.