1. Increasing the concentration of dissolved urate promotes the crystallization of calcium oxalate from urine. The possibility was investigated that this effect may be caused by heterogeneous nucleation of calcium oxalate by particles of crystalline urate.
2. Urine samples were collected from 10 healthy men, centrifuged and filtered, and a solution of sodium urate was added to increase the medium urate concentration from 2.2 to 5.6 mmol/l. Calcium oxalate crystallization was induced by the addition of oxalate, followed by incubation for 90 min in a shaking waterbath at 37°C. The crystalline material was filtered out and the urate concentration was determined in the filtrate.
3. No difference in the urate concentration before and after induction of calcium oxalate crystallization was observed. These findings were confirmed by infra-red spectroscopy, X-ray powder diffraction and ultraviolet wet chemical analysis with detection limits of 5-10, 1.0 and 0.055%, respectively; urate was not detected in the calcium oxalate crystals.
4. In addition, three urine samples were collected and passed through 10 kDa ultrafiltration membranes to remove any colloidal particles which might have been present. The urate concentration was increased and an oxalate load was added as before, prior to incubation at 37°C in a shaking water bath for 5 min, followed by passage through 10 kDa ultrafiltration membranes. Scanning electron microscopy revealed no particles on the membranes thereby indicating that colloidal or crystalline urate was not formed early in the crystallization experiments.
5. It was concluded that the promotion of calcium oxalate crystallization by urate, and thereby the formation of calcium oxalate renal stones, is not caused by heterogeneous nucleation and subsequent epitaxial growth of calcium oxalate upon particles of urate.