Acute kidney injury after ingestion of rhubarb: secondary oxalate nephropathy in a patient with type 1 diabetes

BMC Nephrol. 2012 Oct 30;13:141. doi: 10.1186/1471-2369-13-141.


Background: Oxalosis is a metabolic disorder characterized by deposition of oxalate crystals in various organs including the kidney. Whereas primary forms result from genetic defects in oxalate metabolism, secondary forms of oxalosis can result from excessive intestinal oxalate absorption or increased endogenous production, e.g. after intoxication with ethylene glycol.

Case presentation: Here, we describe a case of acute crystal-induced renal failure associated with excessive ingestion of rhubarb in a type 1 diabetic with previously normal excretory renal function. Renal biopsy revealed mild mesangial sclerosis, but prominent tubular deposition of oxalate crystals in the kidney. Oxalate serum levels were increased.

Conclusion: Acute secondary oxalate nephropathy due to excessive dietary intake of oxalate may lead to acute renal failure in patients with preexisting renal disease like mild diabetic nephropathy. Attention should be payed to special food behaviors when reasons for acute renal failure are explored.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxalates / adverse effects*
  • Rheum / adverse effects*
  • Rheum / chemistry*


  • Oxalates