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Uric acid (or urate) is an organic compound of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen with the formula C5H4N4O3.
Additional recommended knowledge
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. The loss of uricase in higher primates parallels the similar loss of the ability to synthesize ascorbic acid. This may be because in higher primates uric acid (urate) partially replaces ascorbic acid. 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.
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) 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.
High uric acid
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 (no abstract available; levels reported at).
Spasticity, involuntary movement and cognitive retardation as well as manifestations of gout are seen in cases of this syndrome.
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". 
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 . 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 .
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 .
Low uric acid
Lower serum values of uric acid have been associated with Multiple Sclerosis. 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. (1mg/dL=59.48 µmol/L)
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.
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.
Uric acid may be a marker of oxidative stress, 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, 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.
For example, some researchers propose that hyperuricemia-induced oxidative stress is a cause of Metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, plasma uric acid levels correlate with longevity in primates and other mammals. 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.
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.
Moderate intake of purine-containing food is not associated with an increased risk of gout.
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.
Other uric acid facts
The crystalline form of uric acid is used as a reflector in certain species of fireflies.
|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.|