A communication published online on February 6, 2017 in Nature Medicine found a role for alpha-lipoic acid in the prevention of kidney stones in a mouse model of cystinuria: an inherited disease that results in recurrent kidney stone formation.
In a collaboration between the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Buck Institute, Tiffany Zee, PhD, and colleagues tested the effects of alpha-lipoic acid in mice bred to exhibit cystinuria, which is characterized by defective urinary re-absorption of the amino acid cystine, resulting in cystine-based stone formation. “The effects were dramatic and unprecedented in this field,” reported senior coauthor Dr. Pankaj Kapahi, of the Buck Institute. “We were able to prevent stones from developing in young animals, and we significantly slowed the development of stones in animals that were already exhibiting the condition. We are excited that these results are moving to a clinical trial.”
“These patients are in desperate need of new options,” added Marshall Stoller, MD, of UCSF’s Department of Urology, who is also a senior coauthor. “The pain from passing kidney stones is intense and is comparable to vaginal childbirth, and many of these patients have to go through such an unanticipated episode every couple of months.”
“Because it’s an antioxidant, we thought the supplement would promote cystine metabolism in the mice,” Dr Zee explained. “Surprisingly, that was not the case. Instead, we found that the supplement increased the solubility of the cystine stones, providing a new function for alpha-lipoic acid, one that should be of interest to other researchers.”
“Our goal is to find the best way to exploit the benefits of alpha-lipoic acid, which means we need to drill down into the mechanisms involved in its activity,” coauthor Neelanjan Bose, PhD, concluded.