Adhesion of uric acid crystals to the surface of renal epithelial cells

Rima M. Koka, Erick Huang, John C. Lieske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Adhesion of microcrystals that nucleate in tubular fluid to the apical surface of renal tubular cells could be a critical step in the formation of kidney stones, 12% of which contain uric acid (UA) either alone or admixed with calcium oxalates or calcium phosphates. UA crystals bind rapidly to monolayer cultures of monkey kidney epithelial cells (BSC-1 line), used to model the surface of the nephron, in a concentration-dependent manner. The urinary glycoproteins osteopontin, nephrocalcin, and Tamm-Horsfall glycoprotein had no effect on binding of UA crystals to the cell surface, whereas other polyanions including specific glycosaminoglycans blocked UA crystal adhesion. Specific polycations also inhibited adhesion of UA crystals and appeared to exert their inhibitory effect by coating cells. However, removal of anionic cell surface molecules with neuraminidase, heparitinase I, or chondroitinase ABC each increased UA crystal binding, and sialic acid- binding lectins had no effect. These observations suggest that hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic interactions play a major role in adhesion of electrostatically neutral UA crystals to renal cells, unlike the interaction of calcium-containing crystals with negatively charged molecules on the apical cell surface via ionic forces. After adhesion to the plasma membrane, subsequent cellular events could contribute to UA crystal retention in the kidney and the development of UA or mixed calcium and UA calculi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F989-F998
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number6 47-6
StatePublished - Jun 2000


  • 3T3 fibroblasts
  • BSC-1 cells
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Madin-Darby canine kidney cells
  • Nephrolithiasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'Adhesion of uric acid crystals to the surface of renal epithelial cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this