Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size


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

Disorder Subdivisions

  • infantile nephropathic cystinosis
  • intermediate cystinosis
  • non-nephropathic cystinosis

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 is 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.


CLIMB (Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases)
Climb Building
176 Nantwich Road
Crewe, CW2 6BG
United Kingdom
Tel: 4408452412173
Fax: 4408452412174

Vaincre Les Maladies Lysosomales
2 Ter Avenue
Massy, 91300
Tel: 0169754030
Fax: 0160111583

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

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

NIH/National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
3 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3580
Fax: (703)738-4929
Tel: (800)891-5390
TDD: (866)569-1162

Cystinosis Research Network
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

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

Cystinosis Foundtion UK
174 Corwen Road
Reading, RG30 4TA
United Kingdom
Tel: 00441189414232
Fax: 00441189414232

For a Complete Report:

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, 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. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

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.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated: 11/5/2012
Copyright 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2007, 2011 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration