Pathophysiology and treatment of idiopathic hypercalciuria

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 1998 Jul;10(4):373-88. doi: 10.1097/00002281-199807000-00017.


Nearly 50 years after its initial description by Dr. F. Albright, the term idiopathic hypercalciuria (IH) is still in use. The exact mechanism of hypercalciuria is still unknown despite extensive pathophysiologic investigations; recent advances represent the focus of this review. A precise definition of true IH is proposed, taking into account the various nutritional conditions influencing calcium excretion. The potential pathogenic mechanisms are discussed, and the limits of the classical Pak's pathophysiological classification are recalled. The evidence supporting the role of an increased intestinal calcium absorption, a defect in renal tubular calcium reabsorption, or an increased bone loss as a primary mechanism in IH are successively examined. Since overall available human data indicates that all three mechanisms may be found in IH, the hypothesis that a broader disorder encompassing all these various abnormalities may be involved in IH is discussed. Three global hypotheses to account for IH physiopathology are examined: a diffuse defect in fatty acid content of cell membranes, an increased expression of the vitamin D receptor of the 25(OH) vitamin D 1 alpha-hydroxylase, or of the calcium sensor receptor and a monocyte disease. Finally, the available clinical data justifying the therapeutic approaches are reviewed, and guidelines for dietary recommendations regarding calcium and also animal protein, sodium chloride, alcohol, carbohydrate, phosphate, and potassium intakes are proposed, and drug therapy indications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / etiology
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / urine
  • Calcium / urine*
  • Calcium Metabolism Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Calcium Metabolism Disorders / therapy*
  • Calcium Metabolism Disorders / urine
  • Humans


  • Calcium