Fatty liver increases the risk of kidney stones
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease in industrialized countries such as Germany. Fatty liver is said to affect between 20 and 40 percent of all adults. It’s three out of four among people who are overweight and/or have type 2 diabetes. The incidence has been increasing for years. One of the possible outcomes is kidney disease and the formation of kidney stones. It is not yet clear why fatty liver is preferred for kidney stone formation. A German research team has now clarified this.
Researchers at TU Dortmund’s Leibniz Institute for Labor Research (IfADo) have shown in a current study why fatty liver disease triggers the formation of kidney stones. Metabolism appears to be disturbed by a fatty liver, resulting in a buildup of oxalate. In combination with calcium, salt can form kidney stones. The results of the research were recently published in the famous specialized journal “cell reports” Foot.
Oxalate is a liver metabolite
Oxalates, that is, salts and esters of oxalic acid, can not only be absorbed through foods such as nuts, chard, rhubarb and spinach, but are also formed as a metabolic product in the liver. Oxalate is excreted by the kidneys in the urine.
Metabolism is disturbed in fatty liver
As the team discovered, fatty liver disease disrupts the metabolism of the liver. While the alanine glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGXT) enzyme prevents oxalate accumulation in healthy liver, AGXT is insufficient in fatty liver. So the enzyme cannot do its job adequately. AGXT deficiency results in an accumulation of oxalate.
Oxalates increase the risk of kidney stones
When calcium oxalate meets, calcium salts (calcium oxalate) are formed. Initially, the salts appear in the form of small sand-like stones, from which large kidney stones are formed over time. Thus, an increased concentration of oxalate in the urine is also associated with an increased risk of kidney stone formation and kidney damage. According to the research team, kidney stones are not usually life threatening, but they can be a cause of chronic kidney disease.
Other risks of fatty liver
In most cases, fatty liver does not cause any serious symptoms at first, which is why it is often not recognized. If the disease progresses, inflammatory reactions can occur in the liver. Then doctors talk about steatohepatitis or colloquially about steatohepatitis.
At this point there can be a strong increase in connective tissue in the liver. The process is known as cirrhosis. In the subsequent course, there is a risk of increased scarring of tissues. In this case, there is what is called cirrhosis, which is a life-threatening disease because it can lead to liver failure. In addition, inflammatory processes in the liver contribute to the development of Liver Cancer.
Fatty liver can regress
There is currently no pharmacological treatment for fatty liver disease. However, the liver has a strong regeneration. A change in lifestyle with reduced weight, more exercise, a healthy diet and abstinence from alcohol usually leads to regression of the fatty liver. For more information, see the article: Fatty liver: causes and treatment. (FP)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of the specialized medical literature, clinical guidelines and current studies and has been examined by medical professionals.
Diploma Editor (FH) Volker Plasik
- Leibniz Institute for Labor Research at TU Dortmund (IfADo): Fatty liver disease favors the formation of kidney stones (Published: 14.09.2021), ifado.de
- Catherine Gianmoena, Nina Gasparoni, Cristina Cadenas, et al.: Epigenomic and transcriptional profiling identifies glyoxylate detoxification in NAFLD as a risk factor for hyperoxaluria; In: Cell Reports, 2021, cell.com
- German Liver Foundation: steatohepatitis (steatohepatitis) – the most common liver disease in Germany (Accessed: September 15, 2021), deutsche-leberstiftung.de
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.
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