Higher Urate Concentration May Lower Parkinson’s Risk in Men

blood test
blood test
The association was only observed in men, not women.

Higher urate concentrations are associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) in men, according to results from a study published in Neurology.

Previous studies have linked high plasma urate levels with a lower risk of PD, as the compound can act as an antioxidant and is suspected to have neuroprotective properties.

Urate could be an especially promising target for Parkinson’s prevention because it is modifiable. “Administration of its precursor, inosine, which is generally safe and tolerable, could increase urate concentration,” study author Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, Associate Professor and Director at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, told Neurology Advisor.

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To assess if higher plasma urate concentrations are associated with a lower risk of PD, Dr Gao and colleagues conducted a nested case-control using data from 3 ongoing U.S. cohorts: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition (CPS-IIN), and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). Among the 90 214 participants, 388 cases of PD (202 male, 186 female) were identified and matched to 1267 controls.

A higher baseline urate concentration was associated with a lower risk of developing PD in men, but not women. After multivariate adjustment, men demonstrated a relative risk (RR) of 0.63 (95% CI: 0.35-1.10, P = 0.049) versus a RR of 1.04 (95% CI: 0.61-1.78, P = 0.44) in women (P = 0.001). The authors note that the results were not dramatically altered after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and had no significant associations with age, BMI, caffeine intake, or cholesterol and ferritin levels.

The data was then pooled with data from 3 previously published studies that included 325 PD cases. The pooled data was associated with a RR  of 0.63 (95% CI: 0.42-0.95) for men and 0.89 (95% CI 0.57-1.40) for women.

“We found that older men with a low urate concentration may have higher risk of developing Parkinson’s relative to those with a high urate concentration. Previous studies have also reported that PD patients with low urate concentrations had faster disease progression,” Dr. Gao told Neurology Advisor.  “[The current study] provides strong evidence to support that urate could be neuroprotective. However, this notion needs to be tested in a future clinical trial,” he added


Goa X, O’Reilly E, Schwarzschild MA, Ascherio A. Prospective study of plasma urate and risk of Parkinson disease in men and women. Neurology. 2016; doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000002351.