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Kidney Int. 1996 Feb;49(2):413-9.

Oxalate toxicity in LLC-PK1 cells: role of free radicals.

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Department of Physiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, USA.


Oxalate, the most common constituent of kidney stones, is an end product of metabolism that is excreted by the kidney. During excretion, oxalate is transported by a variety of transport systems and accumulates in renal tubular cells. This process has been considered benign; however, recent studies on LLC-PK1 cells suggested that high concentrations of oxalate are toxic, inducing morphological alterations, increases in membrane permeability to vital dyes and loss of cells from the monolayer cultures. The present studies examined the basis for oxalate toxicity, focusing on the possibility that oxalate exposure might increase the production/availability of free radicals in LLC-PK1 cells. Free radical production was monitored in two ways, by monitoring the reduction of nitroblue tetrazolium to a blue reaction product and by following the conversion of dihydrorhodamine 123 (DHR) to its fluorescent derivative, rhodamine 123. Such studies demonstrated that oxalate induces a concentration-dependent increase in dye conversion by a process that is sensitive to free radical scavengers. Specifically, addition of catalase or superoxide dismutase blocked the oxalate-induced changes in dye fluorescence/absorbance. Addition of these free radical scavengers also prevented the oxalate-induced loss of membrane integrity in LLC-PK1 cells. Thus it seems likely that free radicals are responsible for oxalate toxicity. The levels of oxalate that induced toxicity in LLC-PK1 cells (350 microM) was only slightly higher than would be expected to occur in the renal cortex. These considerations suggest that hyperoxaluria may contribute to the progression of renal injury in several forms of renal disease.

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