To use light microscopy to observe the urease-induced growth of struvite crystals in real-time, and to compare the effects of various proteins on that growth.Materials and Methods
Artificial urine, with and without citrate, and a minimal urine solution containing only urea and the components of struvite and apatite were incubated with urease and test proteins in the depressions of culture slides. The number and size of rectangular and X-shaped struvite crystals were recorded using a low-power phase contrast microscope.Results
The formation of crystalline struvite appears to occur after the formation of an amorphous calcium- and magnesium-containing phase. The extent of this amorphous phase is dependent on the presence of calcium and citrate, both of which strongly promote its formation over the crystalline phase. alpha-globulin, gamma-globulin and chymotrypsin inhibitor all result in the same amount of crystalline struvite as bovine serum albumin which is used as a control. Calprotectin, on the other hand, causes consistent and significant reductions in the number and size of struvite crystals under a wide range of conditions. No changes in the morphology of the struvite crystals were observed.Conclusions
Calprotectin, the dominant protein of infection stone matrix, has distinctive properties which affect the formation and growth of struvite crystals. The presence of citrate in synthetic urine dramatically reduces the number of struvite crystals observed. The present method for observing the effects of putative infection stone inhibitors appears to have merit.