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      Calcium-sensing receptor and calcium kidney stones

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          Calcium nephrolithiasis may be considered as a complex disease having multiple pathogenetic mechanisms and characterized by various clinical manifestations. Both genetic and environmental factors may increase susceptibility to calcium stones; therefore, it is crucial to characterize the patient phenotype to distinguish homogeneous groups of stone formers. Family and twin studies have shown that the stone transmission pattern is not mendelian, but complex and polygenic. In these studies, heritability of calcium stones was calculated around 50%

          Calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) is mostly expressed in the parathyroid glands and in renal tubules. It regulates the PTH secretion according to the serum calcium concentration. In the kidney, it modulates electrolyte and water excretion regulating the function of different tubular segments. In particular, CaSR reduces passive and active calcium reabsorption in distal tubules, increases phosphate reabsorption in proximal tubules and stimulates proton and water excretion in collecting ducts. Therefore, it is a candidate gene for calcium nephrolithiasis.

          In a case-control study we found an association between the normocitraturic stone formers and two SNPs of CaSR, located near the promoters region (rs7652589 and rs1501899). This result was replicated in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, comparing patients with or without kidney stones. Bioinformatic analysis suggested that the minor alleles at these polymorphisms were able to modify the binding sites of specific transcription factors and, consequently, CaSR expression.

          Our studies suggest that CaSR is one of the candidate genes explaining individual predisposition to calcium nephrolithiasis. Stone formation may be favored by an altered CaSR expression in kidney medulla involving the normal balance among calcium, phosphate, protons and water excretion.

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          Most cited references 46

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          Cloning and characterization of an extracellular Ca(2+)-sensing receptor from bovine parathyroid.

          Maintenance of a stable internal environment within complex organisms requires specialized cells that sense changes in the extracellular concentration of specific ions (such as Ca2+). Although the molecular nature of such ion sensors is unknown, parathyroid cells possess a cell surface Ca(2+)-sensing mechanism that also recognizes trivalent and polyvalent cations (such as neomycin) and couples by changes in phosphoinositide turnover and cytosolic Ca2+ to regulation of parathyroid hormone secretion. The latter restores normocalcaemia by acting on kidney and bone. We now report the cloning of complementary DNA encoding an extracellular Ca(2+)-sensing receptor from bovine parathyroid with pharmacological and functional properties nearly identical to those of the native receptor. The novel approximately 120K receptor shares limited similarity with the metabotropic glutamate receptors and features a large extracellular domain, containing clusters of acidic amino-acid residues possibly involved in calcium binding, coupled to a seven-membrane-spanning domain like those in the G-protein-coupled receptor superfamily.
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            Extracellular calcium sensing and extracellular calcium signaling.

            The cloning of a G protein-coupled extracellular Ca(2+) (Ca(o)(2+))-sensing receptor (CaR) has elucidated the molecular basis for many of the previously recognized effects of Ca(o)(2+) on tissues that maintain systemic Ca(o)(2+) homeostasis, especially parathyroid chief cells and several cells in the kidney. The availability of the cloned CaR enabled the development of DNA and antibody probes for identifying the CaR's mRNA and protein, respectively, within these and other tissues. It also permitted the identification of human diseases resulting from inactivating or activating mutations of the CaR gene and the subsequent generation of mice with targeted disruption of the CaR gene. The characteristic alterations in parathyroid and renal function in these patients and in the mice with "knockout" of the CaR gene have provided valuable information on the CaR's physiological roles in these tissues participating in mineral ion homeostasis. Nevertheless, relatively little is known about how the CaR regulates other tissues involved in systemic Ca(o)(2+) homeostasis, particularly bone and intestine. Moreover, there is evidence that additional Ca(o)(2+) sensors may exist in bone cells that mediate some or even all of the known effects of Ca(o)(2+) on these cells. Even more remains to be learned about the CaR's function in the rapidly growing list of cells that express it but are uninvolved in systemic Ca(o)(2+) metabolism. Available data suggest that the receptor serves numerous roles outside of systemic mineral ion homeostasis, ranging from the regulation of hormonal secretion and the activities of various ion channels to the longer term control of gene expression, programmed cell death (apoptosis), and cellular proliferation. In some cases, the CaR on these "nonhomeostatic" cells responds to local changes in Ca(o)(2+) taking place within compartments of the extracellular fluid (ECF) that communicate with the outside environment (e.g., the gastrointestinal tract). In others, localized changes in Ca(o)(2+) within the ECF can originate from several mechanisms, including fluxes of calcium ions into or out of cellular or extracellular stores or across epithelium that absorb or secrete Ca(2+). In any event, the CaR and other receptors/sensors for Ca(o)(2+) and probably for other extracellular ions represent versatile regulators of numerous cellular functions and may serve as important therapeutic targets.
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              Randall's plaque of patients with nephrolithiasis begins in basement membranes of thin loops of Henle.

              Our purpose here is to test the hypothesis that Randall's plaques, calcium phosphate deposits in kidneys of patients with calcium renal stones, arise in unique anatomical regions of the kidney, their formation conditioned by specific stone-forming pathophysiologies. To test this hypothesis, we performed intraoperative biopsies of plaques in kidneys of idiopathic-calcium-stone formers and patients with stones due to obesity-related bypass procedures and obtained papillary specimens from non-stone formers after nephrectomy. Plaque originates in the basement membranes of the thin loops of Henle and spreads from there through the interstitium to beneath the urothelium. Patients who have undergone bypass surgery do not produce such plaque but instead form intratubular hydroxyapatite crystals in collecting ducts. Non-stone formers also do not form plaque. Plaque is specific to certain kinds of stone-forming patients and is initiated specifically in thin-limb basement membranes by mechanisms that remain to be elucidated.

                Author and article information

                J Transl Med
                J Transl Med
                Journal of Translational Medicine
                BioMed Central
                22 November 2011
                : 9
                : 201
                [1 ]Nephrology and Dialysis Unit, San Raffaele Hospital, Vita Salute University, Milan, Italy
                [2 ]Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, San Paolo Hospital, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
                Copyright ©2011 Vezzoli et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



                calcium-sensing receptor, kidney stones, calcium


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