Ovarian cancer G protein-coupled receptor 1 (OGR1) (Gpr68) and G protein-coupled receptor 4 (GPR4) (Gpr4) are proton-activated G protein-coupled receptors that are stimulated upon increased extracellular acidity. These receptors have various physiological and pathophysiological roles in renal acid–base physiology, tissue inflammation, and fibrosis among others. Their function in injured renal tissue, however, remains mostly unclear. To address this, we investigated their role in crystalline nephropathy by increasing the oxalate intake of GPR4 KO and OGR1 KO mice.

After 10 days of high-oxalate intake and 4 days of recovery, renal crystal content, histopathology, filtration function, and inflammation were assessed. While GPR4 deficiency did not show major alterations in disease progression, OGR1 KO mice had higher urinary calcium levels and exacerbated crystal accumulation accompanied by decreased creatinine clearance and urea excretion and a decreased presence of regulatory T (Treg) cells in kidney tissue. When lowering the severity of the kidney injury, OGR1 KO mice were more prone to develop crystalline nephropathy. In this setting, OGR1 KO mice displayed an increased activation of the immune system and a higher production of proinflammatory cytokines by T cells and macrophages.

Taken together, in the acute setting of oxalate-induced nephropathy, the lack of the proton-activated G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) GPR4 does not influence disease. OGR1 deficiency, however, increases crystal deposition leading to impaired kidney function. Thus, OGR1 may be important to limit kidney crystal deposition, which might subsequently be relevant for the pathophysiology of oxalate kidney stones or other crystallopathies.

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