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Uric acid

Uric acid
IUPAC name 7,9-dihydro-1H-purine-
Other names 2,6,8 Trioxypurine
CAS number 69-93-2
Molecular formula C5H4N4O3
Molar mass 168g/mol
Appearance White Crystals
Density 1.87
Melting point

decomposes on heating

Boiling point


Solubility in water Slightly
Acidity (pKa) 3.89
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Uric acid (or urate) is an organic compound of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen with the formula C5H4N4O3.


Metabolic processes

Xanthine oxidase oxidizes oxypurines such as xanthine and hypoxanthine to uric acid. In humans and higher primates, uric acid is the final oxidation product of purine catabolism. In most other mammals, the enzyme uricase further oxidizes uric acid to allantoin.[1] The loss of uricase in higher primates parallels the similar loss of the ability to synthesize ascorbic acid.[2] This may be because in higher primates uric acid (urate) partially replaces ascorbic acid.[3] Both urate and ascorbate are strong reducing agents (electron donors) and potent antioxidants. In humans, about half the antioxidant capacity of plasma comes from uric acid.

Uric acid is also the end product of nitrogen catabolism in birds and reptiles. In such species, it is excreted in feces as a dry mass. While this compound is produced through a complex and energetically costly metabolic pathway (in comparison to other nitrogenated wastes such as urea or ammonia), its elimination minimizes water loss. It is therefore commonly found in the excretions of animals—such as the kangaroo rat—that live in very dry environments. The Dalmatian dog has a defect in uric acid metabolism resulting in decreased conversion to allantoin, so this breed excretes uric acid, and not allantoin, in the urine.

Medical issues

Humans produce only small quantities of uric acid. In human blood, uric acid concentrations between 3.6 mg/dL (~214µmol/L) and 8.3 mg/dL (~494µmol/L) (1mg/dL=59.48 µmol/L)[4] are considered normal by the American Medical Association, although significantly lower levels are common in vegetarians due to a decreased intake of purine-rich meat.[5]

High uric acid


Excess serum accumulation of uric acid can lead to a type of arthritis known as gout.[6]

Elevated (serum uric acid) level (hyperuricemia) can result from high intake of purine-rich foods, high fructose intake (regardless of fructose's low Glycemic Index (GI) value) and/or impaired excretion by the kidneys. Saturation levels of uric acid in blood may result in one form of kidney stones when the urate crystallizes in the kidney. These uric acid stones are radiolucent and so do not appear on an abdominal x-ray. Their presence must be diagnosed by ultrasound for this reason. Some patients with gout eventually get uric kidney stones.

Gout can occur where serum uric acid levels are as low as 6 mg/dL (~357µmol/L), but an individual can have serum values as high as 9.5 mg/dL (~565µmol/L) and not have gout[7] (no abstract available; levels reported at[8]).

Lesch-Nyhan syndrome

Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is also associated with very high serum uric acid levels.[9]

Spasticity, involuntary movement and cognitive retardation as well as manifestations of gout are seen in cases of this syndrome.[10]

Cardiovascular disease

Although uric acid can act as an antioxidant, excess serum accumulation is implicated in cardiovascular disease. High uric acid can cause kidney stones, gouts in joints, and disable the body to produce purines, which build up the genetic "blueprint". [11]


The association of high serum uric acid with insulin resistance is known since early ages of 20th century, nevertheless, recognition of high serum uric acid as a risk factor for diabetes has been a matter of debate. In fact, hyperuricemia has always presumed to be a consequence of insulin resistance rather than its precursor [12]. however, it was shown in a prospective follow up study that high serum uric acid is associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes independent of obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension [13].

Metabolic syndrome

Hyperuricemia is associated with components of metabolic syndrome and it has been debated for a while to be a component of it. It has been shown in a recent study that fructose-induced hyperuricemia may play a pathogenic role in the metabolic syndrome. This agrees with the increased consumption of fructose-base drinks in recent decades and the epidemic of diabetes and obesity [14].

Low uric acid

Multiple sclerosis

Lower serum values of uric acid have been associated with Multiple Sclerosis.[15] Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients have been found to have serum levels ~194µmol/L, with patients in relapse averaging ~160µmol/L and patients in remission averaging ~230µmol/L. Serum uric acid in healthy controls was ~290µmol/L.[16] (1mg/dL=59.48 µmol/L)[17]

A 1998 study completed a statistical analysis of 20 million patient records, comparing serum uric acid values in patients with gout and patients with multiple sclerosis. Almost no overlap between the groups was found.[18]

Uric acid has been successfully used in the treatment and prevention of the animal (murine) model of MS. A 2006 study found that elevation of serum uric acid values in multiple sclerosis patients, by oral supplementation with inosine, resulted in lower relapse rates, and no adverse effects.[19]

Oxidative stress

Uric acid may be a marker of oxidative stress,[20] and may have a potential therapeutic role as an antioxidant (PMID 16375736). On the other hand, like other strong reducing substances such as ascorbate, uric acid can also act as a prooxidant,[21] particularly at elevated levels. Thus, it is unclear whether elevated levels of uric acid in diseases associated with oxidative stress such as stroke and atherosclerosis are a protective response or a primary cause.[22]

For example, some researchers propose that hyperuricemia-induced oxidative stress is a cause of Metabolic syndrome.[23][24] On the other hand, plasma uric acid levels correlate with longevity in primates and other mammals.[25] This is presumably a function of urate's antioxidant properties.

Sources of uric acid

In many instances, people have elevated uric acid levels for hereditary reasons.

Diet may also be a factor.

Purines are found in high amounts in animal food products, especially internal organs.[26]

Examples of high purine sources include: sweetbreads, anchovies, sardines, liver, beef kidneys, brains, meat extracts (e.g Oxo, Bovril), herring, mackerel, scallops, game meats, and gravy.

A moderate amount of purine is also contained in beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, green peas, lentils, dried peas, beans, oatmeal, wheat bran and wheat germ.[27]

Moderate intake of purine-containing food is not associated with an increased risk of gout.[28]

Serum uric acid can be elevated due to high fructose intake, reduced excretion by the kidneys, and or high intake of dietary purine.

Fructose can be found in processed foods and soda beverages - in some countries, in the form of high fructose corn syrup.

Causes of low uric acid

Aside from avoidance of purine foods, both accumulated copper and low vitamin B2 can exacerbate low uric acid levels, which in turn is hypothesized to lead to myelin degeneration seen in multiple sclerosis.[29]

Other uric acid facts

The high nitrogen content of uric acid makes guano a useful agricultural fertilizer.

The crystalline form of uric acid is used as a reflector in certain species of fireflies.

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]SI Units for Clinical Data
  5. ^ [5]The effect of a vegetarian and different omnivorous diets on urinary risk factors for uric acid stone formation
  6. ^ [6]Hyperuricemia and gout: diagnosis and therapy
  7. ^ [7]Biochemistry of uric acid and its relation to gout
  8. ^ [8]Uric Acid, Serum
  9. ^ [9]An amperometric uric acid biosensor based on modified Ir-C electrode
  10. ^ [10]Lesch-Nyhan Disease
  11. ^ [11]Role of uric acid in hypertension, renal disease, and metabolic syndrome
  12. ^ Cappuccio FP, et al (1993). "Uric acid metabolism and tubular sodium handling. Results from a population-based study.". Jama 270 (3).
  13. ^ Dehghan A. et al (2007). "High serum uric acid as a novel risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus". Diabetes Care.
  14. ^ Nakagawa T, Hu H, Zharikov S, et al. (2006). "A causal role for uric acid in fructose-induced metabolic syndrome.". Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 290 (3).
  15. ^ [12]
  16. ^ [13]
  17. ^ [14]SI Units for Clinical Data
  18. ^ [15]Uric acid, a natural scavenger of peroxynitrite, in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis and multiplesclerosis
  19. ^ [16]Therapeutic value of serum uric acid levels increasing in the treatment of multiple sclerosis
  20. ^ [17]
  21. ^ [18]
  22. ^ [19]Free Radicals and Human Disease
  23. ^ [20] A Causal Role for Uric acid in Fructose-induced Metabolic Syndrome
  24. ^ [21]Uric acid: A new look at an old risk marker for cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes mellitus: The urate redox shuttle
  25. ^ [22] Urate and ascorbate: their possible roles as antioxidants in determining longevity of mammalian species
  26. ^ [23]Gout Causes: List of Diet/Food Sources High or Low in Purine Content
  27. ^ [24] Gout Diet / Low Purine Diet - Limit High Purine foods
  28. ^ [25]Purine-Rich Foods, Dairy and Protein Intake, and the Risk of Gout in Men
  29. ^ [26] The possible role of gradual accumulation of copper, cadmium, lead and iron and gradual depletion of zinc, magnesium, selenium, vitamins B2, B6, D, and E and essential fatty acids in multiple sclerosis
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Uric_acid". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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