Phytate (myo-inositol hexaphosphate, InsP6) is an important component of seeds, legumes, nuts, and whole cereals. Although this molecule was discovered in 1855, its biological effects as an antinutrient was first described in 1940. The antinutrient effect of phytate results because it can decrease the bioavailability of important minerals under certain circumstances. However, during the past 30 years, researchers have identified many important health benefits of phytate. Thus, 150 years have elapsed since the discovery of phytate to the first descriptions of its beneficial effects. This long delay may be due to the difficulty in determining phytate in biological media, and because phytate dephosphorylation generates many derivatives (InsPs) that also have important biological functions. This paper describes the role of InsP6 in blocking the development of pathological calcifications. Thus, in vitro studies have shown that InsP6 and its hydrolysates (InsPs), as well as pyrophosphate, bisphosphonates, and other polyphosphates, have high capacity to inhibit calcium salt crystallization. Oral or topical administration of phytate in vivo significantly decreases the development of pathological calcifications, although the details of the underlying mechanism are uncertain. Moreover, oral or topical administration of InsP6 also leads to increased urinary excretion of mixtures of different InsPs; in the absence of InsP6 administration, only InsP2 occurs at detectable levels in urine.
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