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Kidney Int. 1999 Nov;56(5):1893-8.

Nanobacteria: an infectious cause for kidney stone formation.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Kuopio, Finland.



Nanobacteria are cytotoxic, sterile-filterable, gram-negative, atypical bacteria detected in bovine and human blood. Nanobacteria produce carbonate apatite on their cell walls. Data on Randall's plaques suggest that apatite may initiate kidney stone formation. We assessed nanobacteria in 72 consecutively collected kidney stones from Finnish patients.


Nanobacteria and kidney stone units were compared using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Demineralized kidney stones were screened for nanobacteria using a double-staining method and a specific culture method. Isolated nanobacteria were analyzed for mineral formation in vitro with Ca and 85Sr incorporation tests.


SEM highlighted the resemblance in size and morphology of nanobacteria and the smallest apatite units in the kidney stones. Nanobacterial antigens could be detected after the demineralization of the stones in 1 N HCl. Nanobacteria were surprisingly resistant to this treatment, and cultures could be established from 93.1% of the stones. Only struvite stones had common bacteria, in addition to the nanobacteria. When the results of all of the assays were combined, 70 of the 72 stones (that is, 97.2%) were nanobacteria positive. Although apatite stones indicated highest nanobacteria antigen signals, the overall nanobacteria positivity did not depend on the stone type. The isolated nanobacteria produced apatite stones in vitro, measured by Ca and 85Sr incorporation.


We propose that kidney stone formation is a nanobacterial disease analogous to Helicobacter pylori infection and peptic ulcer disease. Both diseases are initiated by bacterial infection and subsequently endogenous and dietary factors influence their progression.

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