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The Cystinuric's Dictionary

-A Work in Progress-

The following is a list of terms that might prove helpful in understanding some of the vocabulary involved in the disease and it's research.  It can be confusing and often times overwhelming for any person, especially one with little or no scientific background, to follow the jargon.  It's my hope that this list becomes a good reference for everyone to make use of.  If you'd like to make a suggestion or submit words of your own, they would be greatly welcomed!  Just post them in the "Forum Suggestions" or "Cystinuria Main" forums, and I will be sure to get them up for everyone else's convenience.    

Acid (acidic):  A substance that can donate protons (hydrogen ions) to a solution, thus raising the overall H+ concentration.  Any solution with a pH below 7 is considered acidic, such as lemon juice and vinegar.  

Active Transport:  The process of moving molecules across a membrane, generally from an area of lower concentration to an area of higher concentration which is unfavorable and thus requires energy input.  

Alkaline:  A solution with a pH of greater than 7, also called "basic".

Amino Acid:  An organic compound containing at least one amino group and at least one carboxyl group.  There are hundreds of amino acids in existence, but only 20 are generally considered in humans (sometimes 22).  For a more in depth explanation, visit the "Amino Acid" tutorial, found in Room 101

Atom:  The smallest unit of matter that still maintains the properties of an element.  Atoms are composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Base (basic):  A substance that can accept protons (hydrogen ions) from a solution, thus lowering the overall H+ concentration.  Any solution with a pH above 7 is considered basic, such as ammonia and bleach. 

Basket Retrieval:  A method of stone removal using a tool resembling a small basket-like wire cage on the end of a maneuverable rod.  The entire stone or stone fragment is captured in the "basket" and removed from the patient.  This method is implemented in both PNL (where the basket is inserted through a small puncture in the back) and cystoscopy-ureteroscopy (where the basket is inserted through the urethral opening) procedures. 

Capillaries:  The small blood vessels at which gas and nutrient exchange occurs.  

CAT Scan:  (aka. "CT"  or "computed tomography)  The computerized construction of a cross-section of a bodily area from x-ray images taken at different angles around the body.  CT is capable of visualizing a wide range of tissue types (including soft tissue and blood vessels) with excellent clarity and is capable of detecting cystine stones in most cases.        

Chromosome: tutorial to be added soon

Covalent Bond:  A bond between two atoms where electrons are shared.  

Cystinuria:  An inherited recessive disorder of the transepithelial transport (reabsorption) of cystine and dibasic amino acids in the proximal renal tubule (kidney) as well as in the small intestine.

Diffusion:  The spontaneous act (requiring no energy input) of substances moving from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. 

Disulfide Bond:  A strong covalent bond between two sulfur atoms.  

DNA: tutorial to be added soon

Electron(s):  The negatively charged sub-particle(s) of an atom.

Element:  A pure substance that can not be broken down into other substances by chemical reactions.  Some examples are hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.  

Enzyme:  A specialized class of proteins (generally) that allow or catalyze (speed up) reactions that might otherwise occur too slowly to be of physiological use, if at all. 

Essential Amino Acids:  A group of amino acids that must be obtained through diet because they are not made in sufficient quantities or at all by our bodies.  They are generally considered to include: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, although cysteine and tyrosine often help meet some of these needs.

Gene: tutorial to be added soon

Neutron(s):  The uncharged sub-particle(s) of an atom.

Non-Essential Amino Acids:  The group of amino acids that the human body is normally capable of synthesizing and thus are not required by diet.  

Nucleus:  The central structure of a human cell containing each cell's DNA and various associated proteins.  The nucleus can be thought of as the "information center" of the cell, from which messages in the form of RNA (copied from the DNA) go out into the surrounding area.

Peptide:  A strand of amino acids covalently linked by peptide bonds.  These chains can be various lengths of two amino acids (a dipeptide), three amino acids (a tripeptide), a few amino acids, (3-10, generally called oligopeptides), and many amino acids (greater than 10, called polypeptides).   

Perc:  See Percutaneous nephrolithotomy below.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy:  A common procedure for the removal of larger cystine stones where a small puncture is made through the skin and into the kidney, through which instruments are inserted to visualize, break up, and remove the stone(s).   

pH:  A measure of  the H+ concentration (acidity) of a solution.  Mathematically, pH = -log[H+] where [H+] is the hydrogen ion concentration of the solution.  A pH of 7 is neutral (pure water).  A pH below 7 is acidic, and a pH above is basic

PNL:  See Percutaneous nephrolithotomy.

Probiotics:  Orally administered live microorganisms which can be beneficial to the health of a host.  

Protein:  A polypeptide or group of polypeptides folded into a stable conformation.  (This definition does the importance and elegance of proteins no justice; they are perhaps the single most important group of structures in the human body, carrying out hundreds of specialized jobs and functions, all of which are too complex to mention here.) 

Proton(s):  The positively charged sub-particle(s) of an atom.  Because a hydrogen atom is composed of only one proton and one electron, protons are often referred to as hydrogen ions (hydrogen atoms that have lost their one electron), written as H+.   

Ribosome:  The machinery used by the cell to create proteins as instructed by DNA through an RNA messenger.  

RNA:  tutorial to be added soon

Stent:  A thin flexible tube inserted into the ureter to aid in the outward passage of small stone fragments left over from ESWL or PNL procedures.  A common type of stent for post-surgical care patients is the "Double J", named so because of it's "J" shaped curvature at each end (one end in the kidney and at the other end in the bladder).   

Transcription:  A process in which the information coded by DNA is copied by the construction of a complimentary RNA strand.  

Translation:  A process carried out by the cell in which a modified messenger RNA is used as a template to build amino acid chains.  For a more in depth explanation, visit the "Amino Acid" tutorial, found in Room 101 

Zwitterion:  A molecule that contains charged groups of opposite polarity (analogous to a bar magnet).  Zwitterions are also called dipolar ions.   

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