Struvite stones are formed as the result of urinary tract infection by urease-producing bacteria. Ultrastructural examination of calculi removed from a patient revealed bacteria incorporated throughout the stone matrix. Exopolysaccharide stained by ruthenium red was associated with most of the bacteria, but it represented only a small portion of the organic matrix in the stone. Localised deposits of calcium and phosphorus, components of carbonate-apatite, and magnesium, a struvite component, were detected in close proximity to the cells. Histochemical examinations revealed that several of the gram-negative bacteria within the stone matrix possessed high levels of urease activity. We propose that bacterial slime production, intimately involved in the initiation of stone matrix deposition, is less prominent in mature stones because of the increased incorporation of host-derived mucoproteins and mucopolysaccharides.


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