Urinary excretion of total cystine and the dibasic amino acids arginine, lysine and ornithine in relation to genetic findings in patients with cystinuria treated with sulfhydryl compounds
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- Fjellstedt, E., Harnevik, L., Jeppsson, JO. et al. Urol Res (2003) 31: 417. doi:10.1007/s00240-003-0366-6
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Advances in molecular genetics have brought a deeper understanding of cystinuria. This autosomal recessive disease, which is caused by a defective tubular reabsorption of cystine and the three dibasic amino acids arginine, lysine and ornithine, results in a lifelong risk of renal stone formation because of the low solubility of cystine in urine. Mutations detected within the two genes known to be associated with cystinuria, SLC3A1 (related to type I) and SLC7A9 (related to non-type I), cannot, however, in all cases explain the disease. Inasmuch as a high urinary concentration of cystine is the basis of stone formation in these patients, our aim was to measure urinary total cystine, arginine, lysine and ornithine, in patients currently lacking a full genetic explanation for their disease. Thirty-three patients with cystinuria who were on long-term treatment with tiopronin or D-penicillamine were divided into two groups. Group 1 comprised eight patients who carried mutation in one of the SLC3A1 alleles and two patients who completely lacked mutations both in the SLC3A1 and the SLC7A9 genes, that is genetic findings discordant with the increased urinary excretion of cystine and the dibasic amino acids in these patients. Group 2 comprised 23 patients homozygous for mutations within SLC3A1, that is genetic findings in accordance with the excretion pattern of classic type I cystinuria. When the two groups were compared, Group 1 had a significantly higher total urinary excretion of cystine (p<0.01) as well as of arginine, lysine and ornithine (p<0.05) than Group 2. Also, when the two patients without mutations were excluded from the calculations, there still was a significant difference in the urinary excretion of total cystine (p<0.05). This suggests that the two patients without any detected mutations in the two known cystine transport genes also contributed to the difference. These unexpected findings indicate that an additional gene or genes participate in the urinary cystine reabsorption in the cystinuric patients who currently are without a full genetic explanation for their disease.