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Link Between Nanoparticles and Kidney Stones

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have successfully isolated nanoparticles from human kidney stones in cell cultures//and have isolated proteins, RNA and DNA that appear to be associated with nanoparticles.

The findings, which appear in the December issue of the Journal of Investigative Medicine, are significant because it is one step closer in solving the mystery of whether nanoparticles are viable living forms that can lead to disease -- in this case, kidney stones.

Kidney stones are associated with pathologic calcification, the process in which organs and blood vessels become clogged with calcium deposits that can damage major organs like the heart and kidneys. What causes calcium deposits to build up is not entirely known. Medical scientists at Mayo Clinic are studying calcification at the molecular level in an effort to determine how this phenomenon occurs.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that links calcification to the presence of nanosized particles, particles so small that some scientists question whether a nanoparticle can live and if so, play a viable role in the development of kidney stones.

The presence of proteins, RNA and DNA does not prove that nanoparticles are viable living forms because a genetic signature has not been identified, says the study’s author John Lieske, M.D., a nephrologist with Mayo Clinic. A genetic signature would prove that nanoparticles are indeed living forms that replicate and can cause disease.

“We are looking at how kidney stones start as very small calcifications inside the kidney and then eventually grow into stones,” says Dr. Lieske. “In the laboratory, we have isolated nanoparticles from kidney tissue and kidney stones, and have successfully propagated them in culture. This does not clearly confirm the role of nanoparticles in the formation of kidney stones, but it offers insight not otherwise known.”

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