Aim: To investigate the morphology and function of platelets in nephropathic cystinosis (NC).
Methods: Seven patients (mean age, 6.5 years; SD, 20 months) with NC were investigated. Their platelets were examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and the characteristics of the dense granules (DGs) were determined by mepacrine labelling and the uranaffin reaction. Bleeding time, turbidometric aggregation, and luminescence aggregation were studied and intraplatelet cystine was measured.
Results: Increased intraplatelet cystine, primary and secondary aggregation defects, and the absence of ATP release were demonstrated. TEM revealed DGs of various shapes and sizes and lamellary or amorphous cytoplasmic inclusions. Viscous material had been released into the vacuolar spaces and enlarged open canalicular system. Mepacrine labelling revealed that the numbers of DGs/platelet were comparable between the patients and the controls (mean, 2.9 (SD, 0.22) v 3.32 (0.18); p = 0.34). The uranaffin reaction revealed that the numbers of type 1, 3, and 4 DGs were comparable between the patients and the controls, but that there were fewer type 2 DGs in the patients (mean, 8.5 (SD, 1.95) v 17.22 (1.58); p = 0.01). TEM for platelet aggregation revealed a lack of induction and/or defective execution and/or delayed transmission. The patients' intraplatelet cystine concentrations were higher than the controls (mean, 1.56 (SD, 0.84) v 0.08 (0.01) nmol/mg protein; p = 0.009).
Conclusions: This is the first report to demonstrate raised intraplatelet cystine, abnormal platelet ultrastructural findings, and defective aggregation in NC.