Heterogeneous nucleation of calcium oxalate crystals in the presence of membrane vesicles

Saeed R. Khan, Patrick O. Whalen, Patricia A. Glenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Membrane-assisted crystallization of calcium oxalate was studied in vitro, using constant composition methodology. Rat renal tubular brush border membrane vesicles were incubated in supersaturated solution of calcium oxalate. Calcium and oxalate depletion started much earlier in the presence of the vesicles than in their absence; within 8, 32, or 258 min of the incubation of vesicles in calcium oxalate solutions of relative supersaturation of 12, 10 or 6 respectively. Thin plate-like crystals with jagged edges formed in association with the membrane vesicles. Since crystal nucleation in the presence of membrane vesicles started within 8 min at a relative supersaturation as low as 12, it will start significantly earlier in the urine of stone formers which is known to have higher relative supersaturation with respect to calcium oxalate. These results demonstrate that cellular membranes can efficiently induce nucleation of calcium oxalate crystals from a metastable solution in an vitro system. Similar membrane induced heterogeneous nucleation of calcium oxalate in vivo within the renal tubules is a distinct possibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Crystal Growth
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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