Intractable Rare Dis Res. 2020;9(2):71-78. (DOI: 10.5582/irdr.2020.03006)

Update on cystine stones: current and future concepts in treatment

Moussa M, Papatsoris AG, Abou Chakra M, Moussa Y


Cystine stones are relatively uncommon compared with other stone compositions, constituting just 1% to 2% of adult urinary tract stone diseases, and accounting for up to 10% of pediatric stone diseases. Two responsible genes of cystinuria have been identified, the SLC3A1 and the SLC7A9. Cystinuria is diagnosed by family history, stone analysis, or by measurement of urine cystine excretion. Current treatments for cystinuria include increased fluid intake to increase cystine solubility by maintaining daily urine volume of greater than 3 Liter (L). Limiting sodium and protein intake can decrease cystine excretion. When conservative therapy fails, then pharmacologic therapy may be effective. Alkaline urine pH in the 7.0-7.5 range will reduce cystine solubility and can be achieved by the addition of alkali therapy. If these measures fail, cystine-binding thiol drugs such as tiopronin and D-penicillamine are considered. These compounds bind cysteine and prevent the formation of less soluble cystine. These drugs, however, have poor patient compliance due to adverse effects. Captopril can be useful in the treatment of cystine stones but the drug has not been tested in rigorous clinical trials. Novel potential therapies such as alpha-lipoic acid and crystal growth inhibitors (L-cystine dimethyl ester (L-CDME) and L-cystine methyl ester (L-CME)) were developed and tested in animals. Those therapies showed promising results. Compliance with treatment was associated with a lower rate of cystine stone formation.

KEYWORDS: cystinuria, urolithiasis, novel therapy, cystine stone, tiopronin, D-penicillamine

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