What Are the Endocrine Aspect of Nephrolithiasis?
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Endocrine Aspect of Nephrolithiasis- An Overview

Published on Oct 10, 2022 and last reviewed on Oct 12, 2022   -  4 min read


Nephrolithiasis or kidney stones occurs when a calculus develops in the kidney due to various causes. Read further to know more about this condition.


Nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis, also known as kidney stones, is a common condition affecting a large population. The condition is prevalent in both men and women, and the chances of developing kidney stones increase with age. The most common cause of kidney stone formation is increased calcium concentration in the urine due to reabsorption. This mechanism is directly and inadvertently affected by hyperfunctioning of the parathyroid glands. Therefore, it is safe to say that endocrine dysfunction (of parathyroid glands) can lead to nephrolithiasis.

What Is Nephrolithiasis?

Nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stones or urolithiasis, is a condition characterized by forming a small solid piece of material known as calculus in the kidney or the urinary tract. A hard deposit forms in the kidney and often causes pain. A small kidney stone usually does not cause any significant issues; however, if the stone grows bigger (more than 5 mm), it can block the ureters (tube connecting kidneys to the urinary bladder) and cause multiple health issues. Nephrolithiasis occurs due to genetic and environmental factors. Nephrolithiasis is a common condition affecting both men and women. Approximately five percent of women and ten percent of men develop kidney stones by the age of seventy. Nephrolithiasis is a recurrent disorder, and it can recur at any age.

What Causes Nephrolithiasis?

The primary function of the kidneys is to clean the blood from all impurities and filter it. This process of purification can ultimately lead to the formation of renal calculi or kidney stones. If there is an excess amount of any impurity in the blood (this impurity can be calcium, uric acid, cystine, etc.), the kidneys will try to filter it, and eventually, this impurity will get collected, leading to the formation of kidney stones. The urine will become concentrated with these substances, and ultimately small calculi or stones will form and get collected inside the kidneys.

What Are the Risk Factors for Nephrolithiasis?

The risk factors of nephrolithiasis are primarily divided into three categories: Non-dietary, dietary, and urinary.

  • Non-Dietary: The non-dietary risk factors for nephrolithiasis include:

  • Urinary: Abnormal concentrations of certain substances in the urine have been found to be a risk factor for the development of nephrolithiasis. These include:

risk factors of nephrolithiasis are primarily divided into three categories

What Are the Types of Nephrolithiasis?

There are four types of nephrolithiasis:

  1. Calcium Stones: These are the most common form of kidney stones and contribute to about 90 % of all kidney stones.

  2. Uric Acid Stones: They are associated with people who have a history of gout.

  3. Cystine Stones: They occur hereditarily (a medical condition genetically transferred from parents to their children).

  4. Struvite Stones: This type mainly occurs in women with urinary tract infections.

What Are the Symptoms of Nephrolithiasis?

The general symptoms of nephrolithiasis are:

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Back pain.

  • Pain in the pelvic region and groins.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Difficulty in urination.

  • Pain in urination.

  • Blood in the urine.

  • Excessive urination during the night.

  • Abnormal color of urine.

  • Fever and chills.

  • Increased frequency of urination throughout the day.

What Is the Endocrine Aspect of Nephrolithiasis?

  • The most significant endocrine aspect of nephrolithiasis is the connection between the formation of kidney stones and hyperparathyroidism. The most common type of kidney stones has been reported to be calcium kidney stones, and they constitute almost 90 % of all kidney stones. These calcium kidney stones are formed due to an increased concentration of calcium in the urine. In addition, this increase in urine calcium concentration frequently occurs due to hyperparathyroidism.

  • Hyperparathyroidism is an uncommon endocrine disorder characterized by a reduction in the production of the parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the body. The parathyroid hormone plays a key role in regulating and maintaining a balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Due to the reduced amount of PTH in the body, the calcium level in the blood becomes abnormally low, and the phosphorus level increases. The most common cause of hyperparathyroidism is a tumor of one of the parathyroid glands.

  • The CaSR (calcium-sensing receptor) gene is responsible for the formation of the CaSR protein which is a protein found on the surface of the cells of the parathyroid glands and the kidneys. The calcium molecules attach themselves to the CaSR protein, which in turn enables the protein to regulate calcium in the blood. For the activation of the CaSR protein, the level of calcium in blood should be a lot higher than what is considered normal; therefore, in the case of hyperparathyroidism, the CaSR (calcium-sensing receptor) protein becomes less sensitive to calcium.

  • Higher parathyroid hormone from the parathyroid gland instructs the kidney to absorb calcium back from the urine. At the same time, PTH also activates vitamin D. So, there is an increase in the levels of calcium, PTH, and calcitriol (activated form of vitamin D) in the blood. Higher levels of PTH cause higher absorption of calcium from the urine. Simultaneously, calcium and calcitriol also work on CaSR in the kidneys to decrease calcium reabsorption from urine. But eventually, CaSR activation by calcium and calcitriol outweighs the parathyroid hormone effect, and more calcium appears in the urine. This excess urine reabsorption leads to the formation of calcium stones in the kidneys.

How Are People With Nephrolithiasis Diagnosed and Treated?

The diagnosis of nephrolithiasis is made by means of radiological evaluation to determine the location and size of the kidney stones, renal ultrasound, blood tests, and urine tests. The treatment of nephrolithiasis includes the removal of all the risk factors that could be contributing to the condition and symptomatic relief with the help of drugs like painkillers, antibiotics, etc. Along with surgical removal of the stone if the stone is too big to pass on its own.


Nephrolithiasis is a prevalent condition affecting the kidneys. It is characterized by the formation of small calculi in the kidneys or the urinary tract. The symptoms of the condition usually involve pain in the abdomen, pelvic region, and back. Along with frequent, painful urination and urinary tract infections, etc., the formation of nephrolithiasis is often associated with hyperparathyroidism because of the effect of PTH on calcium and phosphorus metabolism and regulation in the body. Hyperparathyroidism causes calcium reabsorption from the urine leading to kidney stone formation. The prognosis of nephrolithiasis is good, and the condition is fairly stable and manageable with the help of drugs and surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Endocrine Disorder Leads to Kidney Stones?

Hyperparathyroidism is one of the causes that induce kidney stones. Each patient with a kidney stone must be examined for an issue with the parathyroid glands to rule out kidney stones.


Describe the Types of Nephrolithiasis?

- Calcium Oxalate: The most typical kind of kidney stone is formed when calcium combines with urine oxalate. Insufficient calcium and fluid intake, as well as additional requirements, may lead to their formation.
- Uric acid: This is a common kind of kidney stone. Food has increased concentrations of a natural chemical compound called purines. The appearance of these kinds of stones tends to run in the family.
- Struvite: These stones are not so common and are induced by infections in the upper urinary tract.
- Cystine: These stones are infrequent and tend to run in the family. 


Describe the Difference Between Kidney Stones and Nephrolithiasis?

Nephrolithiasis is the phrase utilized for kidney stones, also comprehended as renal calculi, and they are crystal concretions created typically in the kidney. Calculi commonly develop in the kidneys and typically go out of the body through the urethra without pain. Bigger stones are painful and may require surgical procedures.


What Are Two Therapy Options for Nephrolithiasis?

- Drinking water - Drinking enough water daily will dilute urine and may control the formation of the stones.
- Pain relievers 
- Medical treatment - The doctor may prescribe medicine to assist pass the kidney stone.


Can Nephrolithiasis Induces Kidney Failure?

It is well comprehended that nephrolithiasis can induce post-renal acute kidney injury through obstacles of the urinary outflow, frequently connected with immediate deterioration in renal action. Irreversible kidney harm can be induced if urinary drainage is not corrected immediately.


What Are Nephrolithiasis and Its Manifestations?

Kidney stones form in the kidneys, and the stones pass into the ureters, which are the thin tubes that permit urine to move from the kidneys to the bladder. Manifestations can occur. These include intense pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chilliness, and blood in the urine.


Is Nephrolithiasis an Illness?

Kidney stones are also known as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis. They are hard deposits produced of minerals and salts that develop inside the kidneys. Maintaining a diet, extra body weight, certain medical disorders, and particular supplements and medicines are among the many reasons for kidney stones.


How Can We Prevent Nephrolithiasis?

The most acceptable method to control kidney stones is to drink an abundance of water every day to evade becoming dehydrated.
- Drink water and adds fresh lemon juice to the water.
- Avoid fizzy beverages.
- Do not have much salt.


Is Nephrolithiasis a Kidney Illness?

Nephrolithiasis is a typical systemic disorder connected with both acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disorder. Nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stone disorder, is a disease in which people develop calculi within the renal pelvis and tubular lumens.


What Can Induce Calcium Stones?

Dietary elements, increased doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass procedures, and metabolic disorders can improve calcium or oxalate concentration in urine. Calcium stones may also appear as calcium phosphate. This kind of stone is more typical in metabolic disorders like renal tubular acidosis.


Is Calcium Stone the Same as Kidney Stone?

Kidney stones are typically most of them are calcium stones, usually in the state of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is produced every day by the liver or absorbed from the diet. Certain fruits and vegetables have high content.


How Can We Treat Uric Acid Stones?

The therapy of uric acid stones comprises hydration and urine alkalinization. Urinary alkalization with potassium citrate or with sodium bicarbonate is an appreciatively acceptable therapy, resulting in the dissolution of present stones.


How Can We Break Down Uric Acid Kidney Stones?

The most significant step in uric acid stone therapy is drinking plenty of water in order to decrease the concentrations of minerals in the urine. Liquids liquefy the minerals, permitting them to leave the body via urine. Stimulate to pee frequently, which rinses away materials that may develop stones.

Last reviewed at:
12 Oct 2022  -  4 min read




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