High urate levels protect against Parkinson’s disease (PD), at least in men, new research suggests. The study, published in Neurology, raises the prospect of new treatments.
Researchers matched 202 men and 186 women with 1,267 controls. After adjusting for confounders, men in the highest quartile of urate level were 37 per cent less likely to develop PD than those in the lowest quartile. Men in the middle two quartiles were 24 per cent less likely to develop PD. No statistically significant association emerged in women.
The authors combined these data with those from three previous prospective studies. The subsequent meta-analysis suggested that men in the highest quartile of urate level were 37 per cent less likely to develop PD than the lowest quartile. Again no association emerged in women.
“The biological mechanisms underlying such sex specificity remain unclear,” say the authors.
“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, of Pennsylvania State University. “The findings support more research on whether raising the level of urate in people with early Parkinson’s may slow the disease down.”
Previous studies suggest that treatment with its precursor inosine, which the authors say is “generally safe and tolerable”, increases urate levels – a powerful antioxidant – in early PD. They conclude that there is now “strong evidence supporting the design of a randomised trial of urate elevation in patients with early PD or pre-Parkinson syndrome.”
These results suggest that urate could protect against Parkinson’s or slow progression of the disease