Retention of crystals in the kidney is an essential early step in renal stone formation. Studies with renal tubular cells in culture indicate that hyaluronan (HA) and osteopontin (OPN) and their mutual cell surface receptor CD44 play an important role in calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystal binding during wound healing. This concept was investigated in vivo by treating rats for 1, 4, and 8 d with ethylene glycol (0.5 and 0.75%) in their drinking water to induce renal tubular cell damage and CaOx crystalluria. Tubular injury was morphologically scored on periodic acid-Schiff-stained renal tissue sections and tissue repair assessed by immunohistochemical staining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen. CaOx crystals were visualized in periodic acid-Schiff-stained sections by polarized light microscopy, and renal calcium deposits were quantified with von Kossa staining. HA was visualized with HA-binding protein and OPN and CD44 immunohistochemically with specific antibodies and quantified with an image analyzer system. Already after 1 d of treatment, both concentrations of ethylene glycol induced hyperoxaluria and CaOx crystalluria. At this point, there was neither tubular injury nor crystal retention in the kidney, and expression of HA, OPN, and CD44 was comparable to untreated controls. After 4 and 8 d of ethylene glycol, however, intratubular crystals were found adhered to injured/regenerating (proliferating cell nuclear antigen positive) tubular epithelial cells, expressing HA, OPN, and CD44 at their luminal membrane. In conclusion, the expression of HA, OPN, and CD44 by injured/regenerating tubular cells seems to play a role in retention of crystals in the rat kidney.

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American Society of Nephrology. Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Asselman, M., Verhulst, A., de Broe, M. E., & Verkoelen, C. F. (2003). Calcium oxalate crystal adherence to hyaluronan-, osteopontin-, and CD44-expressing injured/regenerating tubular epithelial cells in rat kidneys. American Society of Nephrology. Journal. Retrieved from