GAINESVILLE, Fla.---Cystic fibrosis patients who lack a beneficial intestinal bacterium have a greatly increased likelihood of developing a condition that can lead to kidney stones, and extensive use of antibiotics may be to blame, University of Florida researchers reported today (9/26) in the scientific journal The Lancet.
The study is one of the first to directly link an absence of the organism, known as Oxalobacter formigenes, to the formation of the painful crystals. Previously, many researchers believed cystic fibrosis patients developed kidney stones in connection with intestinal malabsorption problems.
Cystic fibrosis, one of the most common genetic diseases among Caucasians, afflicts approximately 1 in 3,200 people born each year in the United States. The so-called "thief of breath" slowly destroys patients' lungs through recurrent infections and often affects other vital organs. While kidney function is not greatly altered in these patients, kidney stones are an increasingly common complication as the life expectancy of these patients increases. In addition, nine out of 10 eventually are found to have a hardening of the kidneys from a build-up of calcium and oxalate. Oxalate is a byproduct of digestion.
"Our study in fact shows that cystic fibrosis patients, in general, have a very, very low frequency of colonization with this intestinal bacteria," said Ammon Peck, a professor of pathology at UF's College of Medicine. UF researchers collaborated with scientists from Alachua, Fla.-based Ixion Biotechnology Inc., Northwestern University, the University of Bonn and two German hospitals.
Of the 43 cystic fibrosis patients UF researchers studied, 19 produced too much
oxalate, and all 19 lacked the bacterium, Peck said. In contrast, the few
patients who were colonized - even with low levels of the organism - had normal
oxalate levels. The study participants, all residing in Germany and ranging in
age from 3 to 39, had cystic fibrosis and showed n
Contact: Melanie Fridl Ross
University of Florida