In Vivo Renal Tubule pH in Stone-Forming Human Kidneys

Michael S. Borofsky, Rajash K. Handa, Andrew P. Evan, James C. Williams, Sharon Bledsoe, Fredric L. Coe, Elaine M. Worcester, James E. Lingeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: There is evidence that patients with a history of ileostomies, who produce acidic urine and form uric acid or calcium oxalate stones, may plug some collecting ducts with calcium phosphate (CaP) and urate crystals. This is a paradoxical finding as such minerals should not form at an acid pH. One possible explanation is the presence of acidification defects due to focal damage to inner medullary collecting duct and Bellini duct (BD) cells. We sought to further investigate this hypothesis through direct measurement of ductal pH in dilated BDs in patients with ileostomies undergoing percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) for stone removal. Methods: After obtaining institutional review board approval, we used a fiber-optic pH microsensor with a 140-µm-diameter tip to measure intraluminal pH from the bladder, saline irrigant, and dilated BDs of patients undergoing PCNL. Results: Measurements were taken from three patients meeting inclusion criteria. Measured pH of bladder urine ranged from 4.97 to 5.58 and pH of saline irrigant used during surgery ranged from 5.17 to 5.75. BD measurements were achieved in 11 different BDs. Mean intraductal BD pH was more than 1 unit higher than bulk urine (6.43 ± 0.22 vs 5.31 ± 0.22, p < 0.01). Conclusions: This is the first evidence for focal acidification defects within injured/dilated BDs of human kidneys producing highly acidic bulk phase urine. These results may help explain the paradoxical finding of CaP and urate plugs in dilated ducts of patients with stone-forming diseases characterized by highly acidic urine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-208
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of endourology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by NIDDK P01DK056788.

Publisher Copyright:
© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2020.


  • Bellini duct
  • kidney stone
  • nephrolithiasis
  • pH
  • pathogenesis
  • tubule

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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