Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Acute kidney injury after ingestion of rhubarb: secondary oxalate nephropathy in a patient with type 1 diabetes

Marc Albersmeyer1*, Robert Hilge1, Angelika Schröttle1, Max Weiss2, Thomas Sitter1 and Volker Vielhauer1

Author Affiliations

1 Nephrologisches Zentrum, Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik IV, Campus Innenstadt, Klinikum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Ziemssenstr. 1, 80336, Munich, Germany

2 Pathologisches Institut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Thalkirchner Str. 36, 80337, Munich, Germany

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BMC Nephrology 2012, 13:141  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-141

Published: 30 October 2012



Oxalosis is a metabolic disorder characterized by deposition of oxalate crystals in various organs including the kidney. Whereas primary forms result from genetic defects in oxalate metabolism, secondary forms of oxalosis can result from excessive intestinal oxalate absorption or increased endogenous production, e.g. after intoxication with ethylene glycol.

Case presentation

Here, we describe a case of acute crystal-induced renal failure associated with excessive ingestion of rhubarb in a type 1 diabetic with previously normal excretory renal function. Renal biopsy revealed mild mesangial sclerosis, but prominent tubular deposition of oxalate crystals in the kidney. Oxalate serum levels were increased.


Acute secondary oxalate nephropathy due to excessive dietary intake of oxalate may lead to acute renal failure in patients with preexisting renal disease like mild diabetic nephropathy. Attention should be payed to special food behaviors when reasons for acute renal failure are explored.

Renal failure; Oxalate; Hyperoxaluria; Rhubarb; Malabsorption; Diabetes