Blood urate levels associated with the progression of Parkinson's disease

Apr 14, 2008

Higher blood levels of the compound urate, a salt derived from uric acid that is associated with gout, may be associated with a slower progression of Parkinson’s disease, according to an article posted online today that will appear in the June 2008 print issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Urate is a powerful antioxidant that circulates at high levels in the human bloodstream, according to background information in the article. It may serve as one of the body’s major defenses against oxidative stress, or damage to cells caused by nitrogen and oxygen. Oxidative stress may contribute to the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, leading to Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Michael A. Schwarzschild, M.D., Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues studied 804 individuals with early Parkinson’s disease who were enrolled in a drug trial conducted between April 2002 and August 2005. Participants’ blood urate levels were measured at the beginning of the study. They were then seen one month later and again every three months until 24 months had passed. At each visit, they were clinically assessed to determine if their disease had progressed enough to require dopaminergic therapy.

Overall, 493 participants (61 percent) became disabled enough by their Parkinson’s disease to require dopaminergic therapy by the end of the study. Patients with high blood urate levels were less likely to progress to this point. When participants were separated into five groups based on their blood levels of urate, those in the group with the highest levels (6.7 milligrams per deciliter or higher) were half as likely to require dopaminergic therapy as those with the lowest levels (less than 4.3 milligrams per deciliter).

The apparent association between urate levels and Parkinson’s disease progression could indicate that urate itself protects dopamine-producing neurons that are typically destroyed as the condition worsens, the authors note. Alternatively, other compounds that the body eventually turns into urate could be neuroprotective.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: American Ebola doc: 'I am thrilled to be alive'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Nigeria confirms two new Ebola cases (Update)

4 hours ago

Two new cases of Ebola have emerged in Nigeria and, in an alarming development, they are outside the group of caregivers who treated an airline passenger who arrived with Ebola and died, Health Minister Onyebuchi ...

Senegal closes border as UN warns on Ebola flare-up

8 hours ago

Senegal has become the latest country to seal its border with a west African neighbour to ward off the deadly Ebola virus, as the new UN pointman on the epidemic said preparations must be made for a possible flare-up of the ...

Climate change could see dengue fever come to Europe

8 hours ago

Dengue fever could make headway in popular European holiday destinations if climate change continues on its predicted trajectory, according to research published in open access journal BMC Public Health.

American Ebola doc: 'I am thrilled to be alive'

16 hours ago

Calling it a "miraculous day," an American doctor infected with Ebola left his isolation unit and warmly hugged his doctors and nurses on Thursday, showing the world that he poses no public health threat ...

User comments : 0