Ophthalmic manifestations and histopathology of infantile nephropathic cystinosis: report of a case and review of the literature

Surv Ophthalmol. 2007 Jan-Feb;52(1):97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2006.10.006.


Cystinosis is a rare autosomal recessive metabolic disorder characterized by the intracellular accumulation of cystine, the disulfide of the amino acid cysteine, in many organs and tissues. Infantile nephropathic cystinosis is the most severe phenotype. Corneal crystal accumulation and pigmentary retinopathy were originally the most commonly described ophthalmic manifestations, but successful kidney transplantation significantly changed the natural history of the disease. As cystinosis patients now live longer, long-term complications in extrarenal tissues, including the eye, have become apparent. A case of an adult patient with infantile nephropathic cystinosis is reported. He presented with many long-term ocular complications of cystinosis. After 4 years of follow-up, the patient died from sepsis. Pathology of the phthisical eyes demonstrated numerous electron-transparent polygonal spaces, bounded by single membrane, in corneal cells, retinal pigment epithelial cells, and even choroidal endothelial cells. The ophthalmic manifestations and pathology of infantile nephropathic cystinosis are discussed and reviewed in light of the current report and other cases in the literature.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choroid Diseases / metabolism
  • Choroid Diseases / pathology*
  • Corneal Diseases / metabolism
  • Corneal Diseases / pathology*
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Cystinosis / metabolism
  • Cystinosis / pathology*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Retinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Retinal Diseases / pathology*


  • Cysteine