Renal crystal deposits and histopathology in patients with cystine stones

A. P. Evan, F. L. Coe, J. E. Lingeman, Y. Shao, B. R. Matlaga, S. C. Kim, S. B. Bledsoe, A. J. Sommer, M. Grynpas, C. L. Phillips, E. M. Worcester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


We have biopsied the papillae of patients who have cystine stones asking if this stone type is associated with specific tissue changes. We studied seven cystine stone formers (SF) treated with percutaneous nephrolithotomy using digital video imaging of renal papillae for mapping and obtained papillary biopsies. Biopsies were analyzed by routine light and electron microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, electron diffraction, and micro-CT. Many ducts of Bellini (BD) had an enlarged ostium, and all such were plugged with cystine crystals, and had injured or absent lining cells with a surrounding interstitium that was inflamed to fibrotic. Crystal plugs often projected into the urinary space. Many inner medullary collecting ducts (IMCD) were dilated with or without crystal plugging. Apatite crystals were identified in the lumens of loops of Henle and IMCD. Abundance of interstitial Randall's plaque was equivalent in amount to that of non-SF. In the cortex, glomerular obsolescence and interstitial fibrosis exceeded normal. Cystine crystallizes in BD with the probable result of cell injury, interstitial reaction, nephron obstruction, and with the potential of inducing cortical change and loss of IMCD tubular fluid pH regulation, resulting in apatite formation. The pattern of IMCD dilation, and loss of medullary structures is most compatible with such obstruction, either from BD lumen plugs or urinary tract obstruction from stones themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2227-2235
Number of pages9
JournalKidney international
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 3 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Kidney anatomy
  • Kidney biopsy
  • Kidney stones
  • Pathology
  • Renal injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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