Reference range for gastrointestinal oxalate absorption measured with a standardized [13C2]oxalate absorption test

J Urol. 2003 Feb;169(2):687-90. doi: 10.1097/01.ju.0000051637.63068.92.


Purpose: Hyperoxaluria is a prominent risk factor for calcium oxalate urinary stones. Oxalate in urine is synthesized in the body or absorbed from food in the gastrointestinal tract. The amount of oxalate absorbed by patients with calcium oxalate stones may vary from a few percent to 50% of the dietary intake. Reference values for oxalate absorption measured under a standardized diet have never been attained in sufficient numbers from healthy individuals. Therefore, to our knowledge we collected for the first time the values required to interpret test results in patients with recurrent urinary stones.

Materials and methods: A total of 120 healthy volunteers, including 60 females and 60 males, received an identical standard diet on 2 consecutive days. On the morning of day 2 a capsule containing 0.37 mmol. sodium [13C2]oxalate (not radioactive) was ingested with water. Urinary oxalate was measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Absorption at a fixed 800 mg. daily Ca input is expressed as a percent of the labeled oxalate dose.

Results: For the standardized [13C2]oxalate absorption test the reference range in 95% of the 120 volunteers was 2.2% to 18.5% (mean +/- SD 7.9% +/- 4.0%). The repeatability of the standardized test was determined in 26 of the 120 volunteers by repeating the test twice. The mean intra-individual SD was 3.39% +/- 1.68%.

Conclusions: We assessed reference values of intestinal oxalate absorption using a standardized diet. Interindividual and intra-individual variance was high.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Calcium Oxalate / pharmacokinetics*
  • Calcium Oxalate / urine
  • Digestive System / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxalates
  • Reference Values
  • Urinary Calculi / urine*


  • Oxalates
  • Calcium Oxalate