The purpose of this review is to summarize current knowledge on canine and feline cystinuria from available scientific reports. Cystinuria is an inherited metabolic defect characterized by abnormal intestinal and renal amino acid transport in which cystine and the dibasic amino acids ornithine, lysine, and arginine are involved (COLA). At a normal urine pH, ornithine, lysine, and arginine are soluble, but cysteine forms a dimer, cystine, which is relatively insoluble, resulting in crystal precipitation. Mutations in genes coding COLA transporter and the mode of inheritance were identified only in some canine breeds. Cystinuric dogs may form uroliths (mostly in lower urinary tract) which are associated with typical clinical symptoms. The prevalence of cystine urolithiasis is much higher in European countries (up to 14% according to the recent reports) when compared to North America (United States and Canada) where it is approximately 1–3%. Cystinuria may be diagnosed by the detection of cystine urolithiasis, cystine crystalluria, assessment of amino aciduria, or using genetic tests. The management of cystinuria is aimed at urolith removal or dissolution which may be reached by dietary changes or medical treatment. In dogs with androgen-dependent cystinuria, castration will help. In cats, cystinuria occurs less frequently in comparison with dogs.
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