Scanning Microscopy


Renal tubular fluid in the distal nephron is supersaturated with calcium and oxalate ions that nucleate to form crystals of calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM), the most common crystal in renal stones. How these nascent crystals are retained in the nephron to form calculi in certain individuals is not known. Recent studies from this laboratory have demonstrated that COM crystals can bind within seconds to the apical surface of renal epithelial cells, suggesting one mechanism whereby crystals could be retained in the tubule. Adherence of crystals to cells along the nephron may be opposed by specific urinary anions such as glycosaminoglycans, uropontin, nephrocalcin, and citrate. In culture, adherent crystals are quickly internalized by renal cells, and reorganization of the cytoskeleton, alterations in gene expression, and initiation of proliferation can ensue. Each of these cellular events appears to be regulated by extra-cellular factors. Identification of molecules in tubular fluid and on the cell surface that determine whether a crystal-cell interaction results in retention of the crystal or its passage out of the nephron appears critical for understanding the pathogenesis of nephrolithiasis.

Included in

Biology Commons