Cystinuria is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by excessive urinary excretion of cystine, resulting in recurrent cystine kidney stones, often presenting in childhood. Current treatment options for cystinuria include dietary and/or fluid measures and potassium citrate to reduce cystine excretion and/or increase solubility. Tiopronin and D-penicillamine are used in refractory cases to bind cystine in urine, albeit with serious side effects. A recent study revealed efficacy of nutritional supplement α-lipoic acid (ALA) treatment in preventing kidney stones in a mouse model of cystinuria. Here, we report 2 pediatric patients (6 and 15 years old) with cystinuria who received regular doses of ALA in addition to conventional therapy with potassium citrate. Both patients tolerated ALA without any adverse effects and had reduced frequency of symptomatic and asymptomatic kidney stones with disappearance of existing kidney stones in 1 patient after 2 months of ALA therapy. ALA treatment markedly improved laboratory markers of cystine solubility in urine with increased cystine capacity (−223 to −1 mg/L in patient 1 and +140 to +272 mg/L in patient 2) and decreased cystine supersaturation (1.7 to 0.88 in patient 1 and 0.64 to 0.48 in patient 2) without any changes in cystine excretion or urine pH. Our findings suggest that ALA improves solubility of cystine in urine and prevents stone formation in patients with cystinuria who do not respond to diet and citrate therapy.
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