Subject Name of subject: Molecular Mechanisms in Pathological Crystallisations: Renal Lithiasis, Sialolithiasis and Cardiovascular Calcifications

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Masters in Chemical Science and Technology


Name of subject: Molecular Mechanisms in Pathological Crystallisations: Renal Lithiasis, Sialolithiasis and Cardiovascular Calcifications

Code: 10132

Type: Optional

Level: Postgraduate

Year: 1

Semester: 1

Timetable: See general course programme

Timetabled within module MCTQ1: Biological, Biomedical and Medical Chemistry

Language: Spanish / Catalan

Teaching staff

Subject leader

Name: Dr F. Grases Freixedas Contact:

Name: Dr R.M. Prieto Almirall Contact:

Name: Dr A. Costa-Bauzá Contact:


Number of ECTS credits: 5

Contact hours: 33

Independent study hours: 94
Key terms:

Crystallisation. Biomineralisation. Epidemiology, etiology, diagnosis and treatment of pathological calcifications.

General subject aims

The subject aims to provide students with an overview of pathological calcifications produced in the body under conditions of a change of a biochemical or physiological parameter, which enables them to detect the cause or causes of such a calcification.

To achieve this the course syllabus includes a first section in which students will learn about crystallisation in biological media in general and pathological crystallisation in particular, as well as those factors which may induce or repress it.

In the following sections specific aspects of various types of pathological crystallisation will be studied (renal lithiasis, sialolithiasis, cardiovascular calcifications) so that students will learn more about how and why they form, their diagnosis and their treatment.

Subject skills and objectives

  • Understand the principles that govern the processes of pathological crystallisation, as well as the influence of the main factors involved (oversaturation, crystallisation promoters, cellular crystallisation repressors).

  • Gain extensive knowledge of various types of pathological crystallisations produced in humans (renal lithiasis, sialolithiasis, cardiovascular crystallisations), including aspects of etiology, diagnosis and treatment.

  • Be able to apply this knowledge to practical cases: study of real renal calculi and relationship with urinary biochemistry and the patient’s medical history, study of sialoliths and their relationship with salivary biochemistry and the morphology of salivary glands, study of cardiovascular calcifications and their relationship with plasmatic biochemistry and the patient’s medical history.


  • Be able to apply knowledge to practice, particularly in solving problems with qualitative and quantitative information.

  • Be able to gain information from primary and secondary sources, including the Internet.

  • Be able to analyse information and synthesise concepts.

  • Be able to communicate with others and work as part of team.

  • Be able to work individually and plan and manage time.


  1. Pathological crystallisation

    1. General aspects of crystallisation in biological media

    2. Causes (oversaturation and promoters) and repressors of pathological crystallisations.

  2. Renal calculi

    1. Study methods of renal calculi

    2. Classification of renal calculi

  3. Renal lithiasis I

    1. Structure and function of the renal system

    2. Formation of urine

    3. Classification of urine

  4. Renal lithiasis II

    1. Formation mechanisms of renal calculi

    2. Diagnosis of renal lithiasis

    3. Treatment of renal lithiasis

  5. Sialolithiasis

    1. Epidemiology

    2. Composition and structure of salivary calculi

    3. Structure and function of salivary glands

    4. Saliva

    5. Formation mechanisms of salivary calculi

  6. Cardiovascular calcifications I

    1. Structure of the cardiovascular system

    2. Types and composition of cardiovascular calcifications

    3. Blood

  7. Cardiovascular calcifications II

    1. General formation mechanism of cardiovascular calcifications

    2. Causes and repressors (crystallisation inhibitors and cellular defence)

Methodology and student work plan

1. Learning methods: Attendance at theory classes.

Class work

Group size: intermediate

2. Learning methods: Attendance at practical classes.

Class work

Group size: intermediate

3. Learning methods: Study / preparation for practical classes

Independent study

Use of e-learning: Information on the web, e-mail

Group size: Individual

4. Learning methods: Individual tutorials

Physical and /or via e-mail

Use of e-learning: Information on the web, e-mail

Group size: Individual

5. Learning methods: Study, interpretation and elaboration of reports on concrete clinical cases

Independent study

Use of e-learning: Information on the web, e-mail

Group size: Individual

6. Learning methods: Oral presentation and justification of medical cases

Independent study

Group size: individual and/or intermediate

  • Material used in class (OHTs, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) will be made available. There will also be a list including specific bibliographical references and supporting material for each specific area of study.

  • In the practical classes student participation will be actively promoted, with real clinical cases used as example.

  • The individual tutorials are offered as a means of support and guidance for students’ work in studying concrete clinical cases.

Learning agreement and assessment criteria and instruments

Assessment criteria:

  • Attendance at classes is obligatory (students should attend at least 85% of classes).

The final classification will take into account:

  • Participation in class (10%)

  • Preparation and presentation of a report of practical clinical cases (45%)

  • Presentation and justification of clinical cases studied (45%)

Is assessment organised by means of a learning agreement? No
Bibliography, resources and appendices
1.- M.A. Dvorkin, D.P. Cardinali. Best & Taylos. Bases Fisiológicas de la Práctica Médica. Ed. Médica Panamericana (2003)

2.- F. Grases, A. Costa-Bauzá, O. Söhnel. Cristalización en disolución. Conceptos básicos. Ed. Reverté, (2000)

3.- A. Conte, F. Grases. Manual para el estudio de los cálculos renales. Cege Comunicación Gráfica S.L. (1996)

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