FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- To help explain why the
debilitating arthritic condition known as gout strikes some people
and not others, a new genetic analysis has identified 18 new
mutations that appear to boost blood levels of uric acid, the key
trigger for a gout attack.
The current effort involved an analysis of data concerning more
than 140,000 people, gleaned from 70 independent studies conducted
in Europe, the United States, Japan and Australia.
"Abnormal levels of uric acid have been associated with various common diseases and conditions, but causal relationships are not always clear," said study author Dr. Veronique Vitart of the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, in a school news release. "Gaining insight into the genetic components of uric acid levels offers a very useful tool to tackle these issues and to further our understanding of these conditions."
The study appeared in the Dec. 23 issue of
The authors noted that gout has been called the "disease of
kings," based on the belief that rich foods (consumed by rich
people) are the principle culprit behind the onset of often
Gout affects roughly 2 percent of the population. High levels of
uric acid from a wide variety of foods and alcohol accumulate and
form into hard crystals, which then lodge themselves into joints
and tissues. The result: extreme pain and swelling.
Researchers hope that any fresh insight into the role of
genetics in gout incidence might pave the way for better treatment
"Existing therapies to avoid attacks of gout sometimes cause side effects," study co-author Mark Caulfield, at the William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University of London, said in the news release. "[So] our findings identify new potential mechanisms for gout and offer opportunities for new therapies which may improve prevention of this debilitating condition in the future."
For more on gout, visit the
U.S. National Institutes of Health.