Men who had a high uric acid (urate) concentration in their blood had a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published online January 13, 2016 in the journal Neurology.
“These results suggest that urate could protect against Parkinson’s or slow the progression of the disease in its very early stages before symptoms are seen,” said study author Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Lab at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, PA.
“The findings support more research on whether raising the level of urate in people with early Parkinson’s may slow the disease down," he added.
However, the results only showed this association in men, not women.
For this study, researchers collected blood samples from 90,214 participants from 3 large ongoing trials. Of the participants, 388 developed Parkinson’s disease (PD) after the start of the studies. These subjects were matched to 1,267 participants not diagnosed with PD.
After adjusting for other potential risk factors for PD (such as age, smoking, caffeine intake, and serum ferritin), researchers found that men who had the highest levels of uric acid (6.3 to 9.0 mg/dL) at baseline were nearly 40% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those with the lowest levels (less than 4.9 mg/dL). Researchers found no relationship between uric acid and development of Parkinson’s disease in women.
Previous experimental studies have suggested that uric acid could be a neuroprotective agent. In one such study described in this article, researchers administered urate in a mouse model of PD, which directly reduced motor and dopaminergic deficits.
Findings from the current study don’t prove yet that high levels of uric acid protect against Parkinson’s disease in humans, Dr. Gao cautioned; they only show an association consistent with a lower risk effect.
Still, these findings do provide evidence for undertaking a randomized trial for raising uric acid levels in patients with early PD or pre-Parkinson syndrome. Also, he added, more studies are needed to understand the sex differences in the relationship between uric acid and Parkinson’s disease.