Chronic Nephropathy from Dietary Hyperoxaluria: Sustained Improvement of Renal Function after Dietary Intervention

Cureus. 2017 Mar 20;9(3):e1105. doi: 10.7759/cureus.1105.


A 56-year-old man with stable chronic kidney disease (CKD) for two years following a single episode of calcium oxalate urolithiasis developed progressive elevation of his serum creatinine concentration. Urinalysis revealed pyuria and white cell casts, a few red blood cells, minimal proteinuria, and no crystals. Urine culture was sterile. Gallium scintigraphy was consistent with interstitial nephritis. Proton pump inhibitor intake was discontinued, and a short course of oral corticosteroids was initiated. Percutaneous kidney biopsy, performed because of the continued deterioration of renal function to a minimum estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) value of 15 mL/min per 1.73 m2 and persistent pyuria, revealed deposition of oxalate crystals in the tubules and interstitium, pronounced tubular changes, and interstitial nephritis and fibrosis. Urinary oxalate excretion was very high, in the range usually associated with primary hyperoxaluria. However, investigations for primary or enteric hyperoxaluria were negative. He reported a diet based on various nuts high in oxalate content. Estimated oxalate content in the diet was, for years, approximately four times higher than that in the average American diet. The institution of a diet low in oxalates resulted in the rapid normalization of urinary oxalate excretion and urinary sediment and in the slow, continuous improvement of renal function to near normal levels (eGFR 59 mL/min/1.73 m2) before his death from a brain malignancy 3.5 years later. The manifestations of nephropathy secondary to dietary hyperoxaluria, including the urine findings, can be indistinguishable from other types of interstitial nephritis. The diagnosis of dietary hyperoxaluria requires careful dietary history and a kidney biopsy. Identifying dietary hyperoxaluria as the cause of CKD is important because the decrease in dietary oxalate intake without any other measures can lead to sustained improvement in renal function.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; dietary hyperoxaluria; oxalate nephropathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports