About 5% of American women and 12% of men will develop a kidney stone at some time in their life, and prevalence has been rising in both sexes. Approximately 80% of stones are composed of calcium oxalate (CaOx) and calcium phosphate (CaP); 10% of struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate produced during infection with bacteria that possess the enzyme urease), 9% of uric acid (UA); and the remaining 1% are composed of cystine or ammonium acid urate or are diagnosed as drug-related stones. Stones ultimately arise because of an unwanted phase change of these substances from liquid to solid state. Here we focus on the mechanisms of pathogenesis involved in CaOx, CaP, UA, and cystine stone formation, including recent developments in our understanding of related changes in human kidney tissue and of underlying genetic causes, in addition to current therapeutics.
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