Adhesion of calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals to anionic sites on the surface of renal epithelial cells

John C. Lieske, Rebbecca Leonard, Hewson Swift, F. Gary Toback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Adhesion of microcrystals to the apical surface of renal tubular cells could be a critical step in the formation of kidney stones. The role of membrane surface charge as a determinant of the interaction between renal epithelial cells (BSC-1 line) and the most common crystal in kidney stones, calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM), was studied in a tissue culture model system. Adhesion of COM crystals to cells was blocked by cationized ferritin. Other cations that bind to cells including cetylpyridinium chloride and polylysine, as well as cationic dyes such as Alcian blue, also inhibited adhesion of COM crystals, but not all polycations shared this effect. Specific lectins including Triticum vulgaris (wheat germ agglutinin) blocked crystal binding to the cells. Furthermore, treatment of cells with neuraminidase inhibited binding of crystals. Therefore, anionic cell surface sialic acid residues appear to function as COM crystal receptors that can be blocked by specific cations or lectins. In vivo, alterations in the structure, function, quantity, or availability of these anionic cell surface molecules could lead to crystal retention and formation of renal calculi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F192-F199
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Alcian blue
  • Ferritin
  • Lectin
  • Nephrolithiasis
  • Neuraminidase
  • Triticum vulgaris lectin
  • Wheat germ agglutinin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)


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