There has been increasing interest in the human anaerobic colonic bacterium Oxalobacter formigenes because of its ability to metabolize oxalate, and its potential contribution to protection from calcium oxalate kidney stones. Prior studies examining the prevalence of this organism have focused on subjects in developed countries and on adults. Now using O. formigenes-specific PCR, we have compared the prevalence of these organisms among subjects in two remote areas in which modern medical practices have hardly been present with a USA group of mothers and their infants for the first three years of life. Among the Amerindians of the Yanomami-Sanema and Yekwana ethnic groups in Venezuela and the Hadza in Tanzania, O. formigenes was detected in 60–80% of the adult subjects, higher than found in adults from USA in this and prior studies. In young children, the prevalence was much lower in USA than in either tribal village. These data extend our understanding of the epidemiology of O. formigenes carriage, and are consistent with the hypothesis that the rising incidence of kidney stones is associated with the progressive loss of O. formigenes colonization in populations that have been highly impacted by modern medical practices.
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