Melamine promotes calcium crystal formation in three-dimensional microfluidic device

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Scientific Reports






© 2019, The Author(s). Melamine, which induces proximal tubular (PT) cell damage has a greater nephrotoxic effect when combined with cyanuric and uric acids; however, it is unknown whether such effect can stimulate calcium phosphate (CaP)/calcium oxalate (CaOx) stone formation. Here, we show that melamine acts as an inducer of CaP, CaOx and CaP + CaOx (mixed) crystal formations in a time and concentration-dependent manner by stabilizing those crystals and further co-aggregating with melamine. To explore the physiological relevance of such melamine-augmented calcium crystal formation, we used 2-dimensional (2D) and 3D microfluidic (MF) device, embedded with PT cells, which also resembled the effect of melamine-stimulated CaP, CaOx and mixed crystal formation. Significantly, addition of preformed CaP and/or CaOx crystal in the presence of melamine, further potentiated those crystal formations in 3D MFs, which helped the growth and aggregation of mixed crystals. Our data show that the mechanism of such predisposition of stone formation could be largely due to co-crystallization between melamine and CaP/CaOx and pronounced effect on induction of stone-forming pathway activation in 3D MF. Taken together, melamine-induced CaP and/or CaOx crystal formation ex-vivo will help us in understanding the larger role of melamine as an environmental toxicant in producing the pathology in similar cellular microenvironments.

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