Purpose: An increased risk of nephrolithiasis has been associated with the ingestion of grapefruit juice in epidemiological studies. To our knowledge the basis of this effect of grapefruit juice has not been studied previously. We studied the effect of grapefruit juice consumption on urinary chemistry and measures of lithogenicity.
Materials and methods: Ten healthy men and women between ages of 25 and 40 years participated. Each subject drank 240 ml. of tap water at least 3 times daily for 7 days during the control period. This period was followed by a second 7 days experimental period during which they drank 240 ml. of grapefruit juice 3 times daily. In each 7-day period urine was collected for 24 hours during the last 3 days. Urine chemical analysis was performed, supersaturations of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate and uric acid were calculated and urinary lithogenicity was measured.
Results: Urine volume and creatinine excretion were the same during the control and experimental periods. Grapefruit juice ingestion was associated with an increase in mean oxalate excretion plus or minus standard deviation of 41.1 +/- 9.2 to 51.9 +/- 12.0 mg. per 24 hours (p = 0.001) and in mean citrate excretion of 504.8 +/- 226.5 to 591.4 +/- 220.0 mg. per 24 hours (p = 0.01). There was no net change in the supersaturation or upper limit of metastability of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate or uric acid. Crystal aggregation and growth inhibition by urinary macromolecules was not affected by grapefruit juice ingestion.
Conclusions: Offsetting changes in urine chemistry caused by the ingestion of grapefruit juice led to no net change in calculated supersaturation. No changes in lithogenicity were demonstrated. The results do not demonstrate an effect of grapefruit juice for increasing lithogenicity. The basis of the observations of epidemiological studies remain unexplained.