Dietary Oxalate Induces Urinary Nanocrystals in Humans

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Crystalluria is thought to be associated with kidney stone formation and can occur when urine becomes supersaturated with calcium, oxalate, and phosphate. The principal method used to identify urinary crystals is microscopy, with or without a polarized light source. This method can detect crystals above 1 μm in diameter (microcrystals). However, analyses of calcium oxalate kidney stones have indicated that crystallite components in these calculi are 50–100 nm in diameter. Recent studies have suggested that nanocrystals (<200 nm) elicit more injury to renal cells compared to microcrystals. The purpose of this study was to determine whether (i) urinary nanocrystals can be detected and quantified by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA, a high-resolution imaging technology), (ii) early-void urine samples from healthy subjects contain calcium nanocrystals, and (iii) a dietary oxalate load increases urinary nanocrystal formation. Methods: Healthy subjects consumed a controlled low-oxalate diet for 3 days before a dietary oxalate load. Urinary crystals were isolated by centrifugation and assessed using NTA before and 5 hours after the oxalate load. The morphology and chemical composition of crystals was assessed using electron microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and ion chromatography-mass spectrometry (IC–MS). Results: Urinary calcium oxalate nanocrystals were detected in pre-load samples and increased substantially following the oxalate load. Conclusion: These findings indicate that NTA can quantify urinary nanocrystals and that meals rich in oxalate can promote nanocrystalluria. NTA should provide valuable insight about the role of nanocrystals in kidney stone formation.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kumar P; Patel M; Thomas V; Knight J; Holmes RP; Mitchell T
  • Start Page

  • 1040
  • End Page

  • 1051
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 7