Increased production and reduced urinary buffering of acid in uric acid stone formers is ameliorated by pioglitazone

Naim M. Maalouf, John R. Poindexter, Beverley Adams-Huet, Orson W. Moe, Khashayar Sakhaee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Idiopathic uric acid nephrolithiasis is characterized by an overly acidic urine pH caused by the combination of increased acid production and inadequate buffering of urinary protons by ammonia. A large proportion of uric acid stone formers exhibit features of the metabolic syndrome. We previously demonstrated that thiazolidinediones improved the urinary biochemical profile in an animal model of the metabolic syndrome. In this proof-of-concept study, we examined whether the thiazolidinedione pioglitazone can also ameliorate the overly acidic urine in uric acid stone formers. Thirty-six adults with idiopathic uric acid nephrolithiasis were randomized to pioglitazone 30 mg/day or matching placebo for 24 weeks. At baseline and study end, participants underwent collection of blood and 24-hour urine in an inpatient research unit while consuming a fixed metabolic diet, followed by assessment of the ammoniagenic response to an acute oral acid load. Twenty-eight participants completed the study. Pioglitazone treatment improved features of the metabolic syndrome. Pioglitazone also reduced net acid excretion and increased urine pH (5.37 to 5.59), the proportion of net acid excreted as ammonium, and ammonium excretion in response to an acute acid load, whereas these parameters were unchanged with placebo. Treatment of patients with idiopathic uric acid nephrolithiasis with pioglitazone for 24 weeks led to a reduction in the acid load presented to the kidney and a more robust ammoniagenesis and ammonium excretion, resulting in significantly higher urine pH. Future studies should consider the impact of this targeted therapy on uric acid stone formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1262-1268
Number of pages7
JournalKidney international
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • insulin resistance
  • metabolic syndrome
  • nephrolithiasis
  • pioglitazone
  • thiazolidinedione
  • uric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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