National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Skip to the navigation

It is possible that the main title of the report Cystinosis is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Cystinosis is a rare, multisystem genetic disorder characterized by the accumulation of an amino acid called cystine in different tissues and organs of the body including the kidneys, eyes, muscles, liver, pancreas and brain. Generally, cystinosis is broken down into three different forms known as nephropathic cystinosis, intermediate cystinosis and non-nephropathic (or ocular) cystinosis. The age of onset, symptoms, and severity of cystinosis can vary greatly from one person to another. Nephropathic cystinosis presents in infancy and is the most common and severe form. Early detection and prompt treatment are critical in slowing the development and progression of symptoms associated with cystinosis. The kidneys and eyes are the two organs most often affected. Individuals with nephropathic or intermediate cystinosis ultimately require a kidney transplant. Non-nephropathic cystinosis only affects the corneas of the eyes. Cystinosis is caused by mutations of the CTNS gene and is inherited as an autosomal recessive disease.
Cystinosis was first described in the medical literature in 1903 by Abderhalden. Cystinosis is classified as a lysosomal storage disorder. Lysosomes are membrane bound compartments within cells that break down certain nutrients such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Lysosomes are the primary digestive unit within cells. Some enzymes within lysosomes break down (metabolize) these nutrients, while other enzymes transport the leftover metabolic products (such as cystine) out of the lysosome. The lack of such a specific transporter causes cystine to accumulate in lysosomes in cells throughout the body. Cystine forms crystals (crystallizes) in many types of cells and slowly damages affected organs.

Supporting Organizations

CLIMB (Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases)

Climb Building
176 Nantwich Road
Crewe, CW2 6BG
United Kingdom
Tel: 4408452412173
Fax: 4408452412174

Cystinosis Foundation UK

174 Corwen Road
Reading, RG30 4TA
United Kingdom
Tel: 441189414232
Fax: 441189414232

Cystinosis Foundation, Inc.

58 Miramonte Drive
Moraga, CA 94556
Tel: (925)631-1588
Tel: (888)631-1588

Cystinosis Research Foundation

18802 Bardeen Avenue
Irvine, CA 92612
Tel: (949)223-7610
Fax: (949)756-5955

Cystinosis Research Network, Inc.

302 Whytegate Court
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Tel: (847)735-0471
Fax: (847)235-2773
Tel: (866)276-3669

Hide & Seek Foundation for Lysosomal Disease Research

6475 East Pacific Coast Highway Suite 466
Long Beach, CA 90803
Tel: (877)621-1122
Fax: (866)215-8850

NIH/National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

3 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3580
Fax: (703)738-4929
Tel: (800)891-5390

National Kidney Foundation

30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212)889-2210
Fax: (212)689-9261
Tel: (800)622-9010

Vaincre Les Maladies Lysosomales

2 Ter Avenue
Massy, 91300
Tel: 169754030
Fax: 160111583

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  7/10/2015
Copyright  2014 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.