More than tubular dysfunction: cystinosis and kidney outcomes

J Nephrol. 2022 Apr;35(3):831-840. doi: 10.1007/s40620-021-01078-y. Epub 2021 Jun 7.


Background: Cystinosis is a lysosomal storage disease that affects many tissues. Its prognosis depends predominantly on kidney involvement. Cystinosis has three clinical forms: nephropathic infantile, nephropathic juvenile and non-nephropathic adult. Proximal tubular dysfunction is prominent in the infantile form, whereas a combination of glomerular and tubular alterations are observed in the juvenile form.

Methods: Thirty-six children with nephropathic cystinosis were included in the study. Clinical features, molecular genetic diagnoses, and kidney outcomes of the patients were evaluated.

Results: Twenty-one children (58.3%) were male. The median age at diagnosis was 18.5 months. Twenty-eight patients (77.8%) had infantile nephropathic cystinosis, while eight (22.2%) had juvenile nephropathic cystinosis. An acute rapid deterioration of the kidney function with proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia, and nephrotic syndrome, was observed in 37.5% of patients with the juvenile form. The mean estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was 82.31 ± 37.45 ml/min/1.73m2 at diagnosis and 63.10 ± 54.60 ml/min/1.73m2 at the last visit (p = 0.01). Six patients (16.6%) had kidney replacement therapy (KRT) at the last visit. The median age of patients with kidney failure was 122 months. Patients with a spot urine protein/creatinine ratio < 6 mg/mg at the time of diagnosis had better kidney outcomes (p = 0.01). The most common allele was c.451A>G (32.6%). The patients with the most common mutation tended to have higher mean eGFR and lower leukocyte cystine levels than patients with other mutations.

Conclusion: Glomerulonephritis may be a frequent finding in addition to the well-known tubular dysfunction in patients with cystinosis. Furthermore, our results highlight that the presence of severe proteinuria at the time of diagnosis is a relevant prognostic factor for kidney survival.

Keywords: Children; Cystinosis; Glomerulonephritis; Kidney outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cystinosis* / complications
  • Cystinosis* / diagnosis
  • Cystinosis* / genetics
  • Fanconi Syndrome* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Kidney Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Kidney Diseases* / etiology
  • Kidney Diseases* / therapy
  • Male
  • Nephrotic Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Nephrotic Syndrome* / genetics
  • Proteinuria / etiology