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Blood urate levels associated progression of parkinsonís
Written by NetDoc.com Medical News Feed   

CHICAGO—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.

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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 millimeters 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.

“Measurement of urate on its own in patients with newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease as an indicator of an individual patient’s future rate of progression is likely to be of modest clinical utility,” the authors write. However, targeting urate or its precursors could be a promising pathway for the development of therapies to treat Parkinson’s disease.
(Arch Neurol. 2008;65[6]:(doi:10.1001/archneur.2008.65.6.nct70003).

Editor's Note: This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants and the Beeson Scholars Program of the American Federation for Aging Research. The PRECEPT study was supported by Cephalon, Inc. and H. Lundbeck A/S. The analyses of the fully accessible PRECEPT database were carried out independently by the Parkinson Study Group Biostatistics Center in Rochester, N.Y. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

PLEASE NOTE: The April 2008 issue of Archives of Neurology is part 2 of a theme issue on genetics and genomics. Studies featured in the issue address:

  • Genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease
  • Gene-targeted therapies for neurological diseases
  • Neural stem cell therapy
  • Complications of Huntington’s disease

(Arch Neurol. 2008;65[4]:467-474, 447-451, 452-456, 476-480.

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