Cystinuria phenotyping by oral lysine and arginine loading

L. De Sanctis, G. Bonetti, M. Bruno, F. De Luca, L. Bisceglia, M. Palacin, I. Dianzani, A. Ponzone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cystinuria is an inherited disorder of cystine and dibasic amino acids transport that results in urolithiasis because of poor cystine solubility. Three cystinuria phenotypes, differentiated according to urinary amino acid excretion in obligate heterozygotes, were regarded as allelic variants of a monogenic disease. Two mutated amino acid transporter genes, however, have been recently identified as responsible for cystinuria. Mutations in the SLC3A1 gene, encoding for the heavy subunit of the transporter protein rBAT, were associated with type I cystinuria, whereas type II and III cystinuria were associated with mutations in the SLC7A9 gene, encoding for a light subunit of rBAT. Lysine and arginine metabolism have, therefore, been evaluated in cystinuria homozygotes and heterozygotes to better define the cystinuria phenotypes and their correlations with these emerging genotypes. Patients and methods: Lysine and arginine intestinal absorption and renal excretion were assessed by oral loading and compared to normal controls. Seven cystinuria homozygotes and 7 obligate heterozygotes belonging to the different types received alternately an oral dose of 0.5 mmol/kg body weight lysine or arginine. Plasma concentrations of lysine, arginine, ornithine (derived from rapid arginine conversion) were measured 0, 1, 2, and 3 hours after loading. Their urinary concentrations were measured in morning urine and in urine collected 0 - 6 hours after loading. Results: Gut lysine absorption was deficient in type II and III, and normal in type I cystinuria homozygotes. Impaired arginine intestinal absorption, as well as massive lysine, arginine, and ornithine hyperexcretion were shared by all homozygotes, irrespective of the type. All heterozygotes shared normal lysine absorption, whereas arginine absorption was slightly impaired in type II and III heterozygotes, which also displayed high lysine, arginine, and ornithine urinary excretion after loading. Conclusions: Two cystinuria phenotypes, type I and non-type I, can be identified in both homozygous and heterozygous cystinuric subjects by oral loading tests with lysine and arginine. In agreement with recent molecular findings, non-type I cystinuria comprises mentioned type II and type III, which constitute allelic variants of a cystine and dibasic amino acid transport disorder distinct from type I cystinuria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Nephrology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Cystinuria phenotyping
  • Defects of amino acid transport
  • Lysine and arginine oral loading in cystinuria
  • Phenotype/genotype correlations in cystinuria
  • Type 1 and non-type 1 cystinuria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cystinuria phenotyping by oral lysine and arginine loading'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this