Scanning Microscopy


The present investigation was designed to study interactions between Madin-Darby canine kidney (MOCK) cells and calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) crystals and to clarify the significance of these crystal-cell interactions in stone pathogenesis.

MOCK cells cultured in the presence of COM crystals showed a time-dependent uptake of crystals; this was specific for COM crystals. In the dynamic model system designed to study these phenomena under more physiological conditions, COM crystals adhered to the cell surface and were subsequently internalized. In this endocytotic process, the microvilli of the cell appeared to play an important role. The observation by scanning electron microscopy of complexes consisting of aggregated COM crystals and cell debris led us to speculate that adhesion and endocytosis of crystals might provide the calculus nidus for aggregation and retention of crystals in the renal tubule. Furthermore, glycosaminoglycans and the macromolecular fraction of human urine were shown to have the ability to inhibit the cellular uptake of crystals.

Evidence that similar processes may also occur in vivo was obtained using an experimental stone model in rats. Our experiments revealed that most of the COM crystals adhered to the tubular cells and some crystals were endocytosed by the cell. Thus, these crystal-cell interactions might be one of the earliest processes in the formation of kidney stones. Further elucidation of the mechanism and the regulatory factors involved in this process may provide new insight into stone pathogenesis.

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