Intestinal Oxalobacter formigenes colonization in calcium oxalate stone formers and its relation to urinary oxalate

J Endourol. 2003 Apr;17(3):173-6. doi: 10.1089/089277903321618743.


Background and purpose: Oxalobacter formigenes is an anaerobic commensal colonic bacterium capable of degrading oxalate through the enzyme oxalyl-CoA decarboxylase. It has been theorized that individuals who lack this bacterium have higher intestinal oxalate absorption, leading to a higher urinary oxalate concentration and an increased risk of calcium oxalate urolithiasis. We performed a prospective, controlled study to evaluate O. formigenes colonization in calcium oxalate stone formers and to correlate colonization with urinary oxalate and other standard urinary stone risk factors.

Patients and methods: Thirty-five first-time calcium oxalate stone formers were compared with 10 control subjects having no history of urolithiasis and a normal renal ultrasound scan. All subjects underwent standard metabolic testing by submitting serum and 24-hour urine specimens. In addition, all subjects submitted stool samples for culture and detection of O. formigenes by Xentr(ix) O. formigenes Monitor.

Results: Intestinal Oxalobacter was detected in only 26% of the stone formers compared with 60% of the controls (p < 0.05). Overall, the average urinary oxalate excretion by the two groups was similar (38.6 mg/day v 40.8 mg/day). Among stone formers, however, there were statistically higher urinary oxalate concentrations in O. formigenes-negative patients compared with those testing positive (41.7 mg/day v 29.4 mg/day) (p = 0.03). Furthermore, all 10 stone formers with hyperoxaluria (>44 mg/day) tested negative for O. formigenes (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Calcium oxalate stone formers have a low rate of colonization with O. formigenes. Among stone formers, absence of intestinal Oxalobacter correlates with higher urinary oxalate concentration and an increased risk of hyperoxaluria. Introduction of the Oxalobacter bacterium or an analog of its enzyme oxalyl-CoA decarboxylase into the intestinal tract may be a treatment for calcium oxalate stone disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcium Oxalate*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxalates / urine*
  • Oxalobacter formigenes / isolation & purification*
  • Urinary Calculi / chemistry
  • Urinary Calculi / microbiology*
  • Urinary Calculi / urine


  • Oxalates
  • Calcium Oxalate