In recent years there has been great interest in the putative role of prothrombin and its activation peptides, especially the urinary form of prothrombin fragment 1, in the pathogenesis of calcium oxalate (CaOx) urolithiasis. Previously, we showed that prothrombin and its activation peptides inhibit CaOx crystallization in inorganic conditions in vitro. The aim of the present study was to determine if this inhibitory activity is retained in undiluted human urine and, therefore, whether it is likely to have any influence under physiological conditions. A secondary objective was to assess the relationship between the structures of the proteins and their inhibitory activities. Prothrombin was purified from Prothrombinex-HT, cleaved with thrombin and the resulting fragment 1 (F1) and fragment 2 (F2) were purified. The purity of each protein was confirmed by SDS/PAGE, and their effects on CaOx crystallization in undiluted ultrafiltered human urine were determined at a final concentration 80.65nmol/l using Coulter Counter and [14C]oxalate analysis. The precipitated crystals were visualized using scanning electron microscopy. The Coulter Counter data revealed that, whereas prothrombin and its activation peptides did not affect the urinary metastable limit and the size of the precipitated particles, F1 did significantly reduce the latter. These findings were corroborated with scanning electron microscopy which also revealed that the reduction in particle size caused by F1 resulted from a decrease in the degree of crystal aggregation, rather than in the size of the individual crystals. The [14C]oxalate data showed that none of the proteins added significantly inhibited the mineral deposition. It was concluded that with the exception of F1, which does inhibit CaOx crystal aggregation, prothrombin and its activation peptides do not alter the deposition and aggregation of CaOx crystals in ultrafiltered human urine in vitro. Also, the γ-carboxyglutamic acid domain of prothrombin and F1, which is absent from thrombin and F2, is the region of the molecules that determines their potent inhibitory effects. The superior potency of F1, compared with prothrombin, probably results from the molecule's greater charge-to-mass ratio.
- calcium oxalate crystallization
- prothrombin fragment 1
- urinary prothrombin fragment 1
- prothrombin fragment 2
- The Biochemical Society and the Medical Research Society © 2002