The aspartyl protease renin was first isolated from the kidney by Tigerstedt more than a century ago. In the kidney, renin secretion is tightly linked to sodium intake and renal perfusion pressure, reflecting the important role of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) in controlling body fluid volume and blood pressure. The study by Mackins et al. in this issue of the JCI describes a novel source of renin: the mast cell (see the related article beginning on page 1063). This discovery suggests a distinct pathway for activation of the RAS that may have a particular impact on the pathogenesis of chronic tissue injury as well as more acute pathology such as arrhythmias in the heart.
Thu H. Le, Thomas M. Coffman