Oxalobacter formigenes may reduce the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Jun;19(6):1197-203. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2007101058. Epub 2008 Mar 5.


Most kidney stones are composed primarily of calcium oxalate. Oxalobacter formigenes is a Gram-negative, anaerobic bacterium that metabolizes oxalate in the intestinal tract and is present in a large proportion of the normal adult population. It was hypothesized that the absence of O. formigenes could lead to increased colonic absorption of oxalate, and the subsequent increase in urinary oxalate could favor the development of stones. To test this hypothesis, a case-control study involving 247 adult patients with recurrent calcium oxalate stones and 259 age-, gender-, and region-matched control subjects was performed. The prevalence of O. formigenes, determined by stool culture, was 17% among case patients and 38% among control subjects; on the basis of multivariate analysis controlling demographic factors, dietary oxalate, and antibiotic use, the odds ratio for colonization was 0.3 (95% confidence interval 0.2 to 0.5). The inverse association was consistently present within strata of age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, and antibiotic use. Among the subset of participants who completed a 24-h urine collection, the risk for kidney stones was directly proportional to urinary oxalate, but when urinary factors were included in the multivariable model, the odds ratio for O. formigenes remained 0.3 (95% confidence interval 0.1 to 0.7). Surprisingly, median urinary oxalate excretion did not differ with the presence or absence of O. formigenes colonization. In conclusion, these results suggest that colonization with O. formigenes is associated with a 70% reduction in the risk for being a recurrent calcium oxalate stone former.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcium Oxalate* / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi / chemistry
  • Kidney Calculi / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxalobacter formigenes / physiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Calcium Oxalate