1. The aim of this study was to determine whether seed crystals of uric acid or monosodium urate promote the epitaxial deposition of calcium oxalate in undiluted human urine. The effects of seed crystals of uric acid, monosodium urate or calcium oxalate on calcium oxalate crystallization induced in pooled 24-h urine samples collected from six healthy men were determined by [14C]oxalate deposition and Coulter counter particle analysis. The precipitated crystals were examined by scanning electron microscopy.

2. Seed crystals of uric acid, monosodium urate and calcium oxalate increased the precipitated particle volume in comparison with the control containing no seeds by 13.6%, 56.8% and 206.5% respectively, whereas the deposition of [14C]oxalate in these samples relative to the control was 1.4% (P < 0.05), 5.2% (P < 0.01) and 54% (P < 0.001) respectively. The crystalline particles deposited in the presence of monosodium urate seeds were smaller than those in the control samples. Scanning electron microscopy showed that large aggregates of calcium oxalate were formed in the presence of calcium oxalate seeds, which themselves were not visible. In contrast, monosodium urate and, to a lesser extent, uric acid seeds were scattered free on the membrane surfaces and attached like barnacles upon the surface of the calcium oxalate crystals.

3. It was concluded that seed crystals of monosodium urate and uric acid do not promote calcium oxalate deposition to a physiologically significant degree in urine. Howsever, binding of monosodium urate and uric acid crystals and their subsequent enclosure within actively growing calcium oxalate crystals might occur in vivo, thereby explaining the occurrence of mixed urate/oxalate stones.

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