Hypocitraturia: pathophysiology and medical management

Rev Urol. Summer 2009;11(3):134-44.


Low urinary citrate excretion is a known risk factor for the development of kidney stones. Citrate inhibits stone formation by complexing with calcium in the urine, inhibiting spontaneous nucleation, and preventing growth and agglomeration of crystals. Hypocitraturia is a common metabolic abnormality found in 20% to 60% of stone formers. It is most commonly idiopathic in origin but may be caused by distal renal tubular acidosis, hypokalemia, bowel dysfunction, and a high-protein, low-alkali diet. Genetic factors, medications, and other comorbid disorders also play a role. Hypocitraturia should be managed through a combination of dietary modifications, oral alkali, and possibly lemonade or other citrus juice-based therapy. This review concerns the pathophysiology of hypocitraturia and the management of stone formers afflicted with this abnormality.

Keywords: Alkali citrate; Citrate metabolism; Citrate pathophysiology; Citrus juice; Hypocitraturia; Hypocitraturia etiologies; Lemonade; Medical management of stone disease; Potassium citrate.