Researchers have discovered that factors secreted by gut bacteria might help prevent or treat kidney stones, according to a study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Hatim Hassan, MD, PhD, from the University of Chicago, and his colleagues found that factors secreted by Oxalobacter formigenes, an anaerobic bacterium that lives in the large intestine and utilizes oxalate as its exclusive energy source, stimulate oxalate transport by human intestinal cells grown in tissue culture. The team also revealed that the mechanisms of the observed stimulation involve the PKA signaling pathway and a protein transporter called SLC26A6. Importantly, Of factors reduced urinary oxalate excretion by >32.5% in mice by stimulating colonic oxalate secretion.

“Probiotic bacteria have several health benefits; however, the difficulties in determining intestinal bacterial bioavailability and biosafety concerns when administering live probiotics are potential problems facing current probiotics clinical applications. Developing probiotics-derived factors as novel therapeutic agents is an alternative approach that addresses such concerns,” said Hassan. “The fact that these factors retain their biological activity and can effectively reduce urinary oxalate excretion in mice indicates their significant potential as novel therapeutic agents, and provides a compelling reason for the aggressive pursuit of their characterization, which is currently underway.”