Uric acid nephrolithiasis: Proton titration of an essential molecule?

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17 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The majority of uric acid nephrolithiasis in humans occurs in the absence of frank hyperuricosuria and is primarily a disease of excessively low urinary pH. Uric acid is substantially less soluble than urate salts so in low urine pH urate is protonated, thus favoring precipitation even under what is considered physiologic concentrations of total urinary uric acid/urate. This commentary examines the rationales behind the existence of uric acid in urine and body fluids in vertebrate evolution. RECENT FINDINGS: The purpose of uric acid in arthropod, avian and reptilian species is to enable nitrogen excretion in solid state without loss of water. The re-emergence of uric acid in higher primates as an end product of metabolism is intriguing since urea functions perfectly well as a nitrogenous waste. Uric acid must purvey important physiologic functions in primate biology. Numerous roles of uric acid as an antioxidant, immune signaling molecule, and a defender of circulatory integrity have recently been proposed. SUMMARY: There is little doubt that uric acid serves multiple important functions in higher primates. It is also conceivable, however, that this important molecule when present in the wrong concentration or context can lead to undesirable phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-373
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in nephrology and hypertension
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Antioxidant
  • Evolution
  • Immune signaling
  • Nephrolithiasis
  • Nitrogen waste
  • Uric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Nephrology


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