Urinary macromolecules have attracted great interest because of their possible role as both promoters and inhibitors of calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystallization and it remains unclear whether there is any difference, in their nucleating activity, between stone formers and controls. We selected 9 male idiopathic CaOx stone formers whose 24-h urines presented no evidence of common urinary stone risk factors such as hypercalciuria, hyperoxaluria, hyperuricosuria, hypocitraturia, hypomagnesiuria or low glycosaminoglycans excretion and 12 male controls (matched for age and body weight) whose 24-h urines did not differ from those of stone formers. The study of urinary CaOx nucleation was made in freshly voided overnight urines whose biochemical composition was almost identical in the two groups. In filtered (0.22 mu m) and ultrafiltered (10 kDa) urine we performed an oxalate tolerance test to determine the permissible increment of oxalate, the oxalate level for nucleation and the permissible increment of CaOx relative supersaturation (CaOx RS). In filtered urine from stone formers the permissible increment of oxalate was lower than controls (30 +/- 10.2 vs. 46.7 +/- 9.7 mg/l, P=0.001), the oxalate level for nucleation was lower (64.4 +/- 14.2 vs. 79.5 +/- 15.6 mg/l, P = 0.035) and the permissible increment of CaOx RS was also lower (9.71 +/- 2.59 vs. 13.39 +/- 3.62, P = 0.018). In ultrafiltered urine these differences disappeared because the removal of macromolecules in stone formers significantly enhanced the oxalate-tolerance values. The difference between the change of the oxalate permissible increment of filtered and ultrafiltered urine allowed a distinction to be made between stone formers and controls that was not feasible in other ways (7.6 +/- 5.3 vs. 3.3 +/- 5.9 mg/l, P < 0.0001). The study suggests that, in idiopathic CaOx stone formers free from common urinary risk factors of CaOx crystallization, there is an increased tendency for CaOx nucleation in urine, which is mediated by macromolecular components.
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