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  • Principal Investigator: Lorna Clarson
  • 1 April 2017 to 30 September 2017
  • Project No: 350
  • Funding round: FR 13

Gout and Neurodegenerative Disorders

Aims and Background of the Research

Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are thought to result from damage to the nerve cells which are responsible for conducting messages around the body. 

Uric acid (UA), which is released into the blood when the body breaks down proteins from food, is thought to protect against this nerve cell damage; however, it is also known to cause painful attacks of gout when high levels of UA in the blood cause the formation of  tiny urate crystals. These crystals deposit in and around the joints and cause intense pain and swelling.

The aims of long-term gout treatment are, therefore, to lower the amount of UA in the blood in order to reduce painful attacks. However, given that higher levels of UA may protect nerve cells from damage which causes PD, MS and Alzheimer’s disease it is important to understand if patients with gout (and therefore higher levels of UA) are at lower risk of those conditions, and whether in lowering the UA levels to treat painful gout, patients become at greater risk of PD and MS than if they had remained untreated.

Methods

A large database of electronic general practice records will be used to compare the risk of PD, MS or similar conditions in patients with and without gout. In those patients who have gout, the effect of lowering UA levels with medication on the risk of PD, MS or similar conditions will also be tested.

PPIE

The gout Research User Group (RUG) has informed this research question, highlighting the importance of identifying potentially avoidable complications of gout, but also the impact of concerns about side effects of medication when considering or taking urate-lowering gout treatments.

Amount awarded: £51,220