Purpose: Osteopontin is a well-known component of stone matrix and a strong inhibitor of the nucleation, growth and aggregation of calcium oxalate crystals in vitro. To understand its involvement in vivo in calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis we investigated the renal expression and urinary excretion of osteopontin in normal rats, and rats with hyperoxaluria and calcium oxalate crystal deposits in the kidneys.
Materials and methods: Calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis was induced by administering ethylene glycol. Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization were done to localize osteopontin and osteopontin messenger RNA in the kidneys, while sensitive reverse transcriptase quantitative competitive template polymerase chain reaction was performed to detect and quantify osteopontin messenger RNA expression. Urinary excretion was determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blot analysis, and then quantified by densitometry of the Western blots.
Results: Osteopontin expression in the kidneys was significantly increased after hyperoxaluria and it increased further after the deposition of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys. Urinary excretion of osteopontin increased concomitantly. The results reveal differences in renal responses after exposure to oxalate and calcium oxalate crystals. In normal kidneys osteopontin expression was limited to a small number of cells of the thin limbs of the loop of Henle and papillary surface epithelium. During hyperoxaluria osteopontin expression in the kidneys was increased but still mostly limited to cells of the thin limb and papillary surface epithelium. However, after calcium oxalate crystal deposition osteopontin expression was observed throughout the kidneys, including segments of the proximal tubules.
Conclusions: In response to exposure to oxalate and calcium oxalate crystals renal epithelial cells increase the production of osteopontin, which may have a significant role in calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis.