Progress in Understanding the Genetics of Calcium-Containing Nephrolithiasis

Renal stone disease is a frequent condition, causing a huge burden on health care systems globally. Calcium-based calculi account for around 75% of renal stone disease and the incidence of these calculi is increasing, suggesting environmental and dietary factors are acting upon a preexisting genetic background. The familial nature and significant heritability of stone disease is known, and recent genetic studies have successfully identified genes that may be involved in renal stone formation. The detection of monogenic causes of renal stone disease has been made more feasible by the use of high-throughput sequencing technologies and has also facilitated the discovery of novel monogenic causes of stone disease. However, the majority of calcium stone formers remain of undetermined genotype. Genome-wide association studies and candidate gene studies implicate a series of genes involved in renal tubular handling of lithogenic substrates, such as calcium, oxalate, and phosphate, and of inhibitors of crystallization, such as citrate and magnesium. Additionally, expression profiling of renal tissues from stone formers provides a novel way to explore disease pathways. New animal models to explore these recently-identified mechanisms and therapeutic interventions are being tested, which hopefully will provide translational insights to stop the growing incidence of nephrolithiasis.

Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN. 2016 Jan 08 [Epub ahead of print]

John A Sayer

Institute of Genetic Medicine, International Centre for Life, Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom .