Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study supports possible role of urate in slowing Parkinson's disease progression

Results confirm those of 2008 study, clinical trial is underway

By examining data from a 20-year-old clinical trial, a research team based at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (MGH-MIND) and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), has found evidence supporting the findings of their 2008 study – that elevated levels of the antioxidant urate may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

The report – which will appear in the December 2009 Archives of Neurology and has been released online – analyzed blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples from participants in a 1980s trail of potential Parkinson's medications, confirming the previous study's findings in a totally different group of patients.

"These results were critically important. Only now we can be reasonably sure that the slower rate of progression in patients with higher concentrations of urate is real and not a chance occurrence," says Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPh, of HSPH, the new study's lead author.

Parkinson's disease – characterized by tremors, rigidity, difficulty walking and other symptoms – is caused by destruction of brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. The 2008 study, which investigated the observation that healthy people with elevated but still normal urate levels have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson's, found an association between higher blood urate levels and slower disease progression in 800 participants from a previous clinical trial.

To follow up that finding, the current study reviewed information from a much earlier trial that had investigated whether the drug deprenyl, now an established treatment for Parkinson's, or doses of vitamin E would slow disease progression. The researchers analyzed samples of both blood and cerebrospinal fluid from 800 participants in the DATATOP study, conducted by the Parkinson's Study Group at centers across the U.S. and Canada, to find any association of urate levels with how quickly recently diagnosed patients progressed to the point where they needed to begin standard drug therapy.

Confirming the results of the 2008 study, they found that participants with the highest blood urate levels had a 36 percent less chance of needing to begin treatment during the two-year study period than did those with the lowest urate levels. Similar results were seen for urate levels in the cerebrospinal fluid. Also echoing last year's results, the association of urate levels with risk was robust in men but less clear in women, which may reflect the fact that few women have the high natural urate levels associated with risk reduction.

"Since cerebrospinal fluid circulates in and around the brain, the association with urate CSF levels strengthens the possibility that urate has a protective influence on the cells that degenerate in Parkinson's disease," says Michael Schwarzschild, MD, PhD, of MGH-MIND, the study's senior author. "Urate is a major antioxidant and it can protect brain cells in the lab, which makes this a compelling possibility; but we don't yet know if it's urate itself or some urate-determining factor that helps people with Parkinson's."

One unexpected observation was that the association of urate levels with disease progression was not seen in DATATOP trial participants who had received vitamin E, also a powerful antioxidant that had no effect on disease progression in the original study. The researchers speculate that vitamin E might block urate's effects or that the elevated doses in the DATATOP trial might have had a pro-oxidant effect, possibilities that need further investigation.

With the support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Schwarzschild and Ascherio, along with Parkinson Study Group colleagues from across the country, are conducting a multicenter Phase 2 trial at 10 centers. Enrolling 90 recently diagnosed patients, the SURE-PD trial will investigate whether treatment with the urate precursor inosine can safely increase urate levels with a goal of slowing disease progression. More information on this trial is available at

"Because elevated urate levels have known health risks, including gout and kidney stones," Schwarzschild stresses, "urate elevation should only be attempted in the context of a closely monitored clinical trial in which potential benefits and risks are carefully balanced."

The current study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the RJG Foundation, the American Federation for Aging Research, the Parkinson Disease Foundation and the Parkinson Study Group. Co-authors of the Archives of Neurology paper are Kui Xu, MD, and Marsha Tennis, RN, MGH-MIND; Wayne Matson, PhD, and Mikhail Bogdanov, PhD, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bedford, Mass.: Peter LeWitt, MD, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit; Shirley Eberly, MS, Arthur Watts, Karl Keiburtz, MD, Alice Rudolph, PhD, Steven Schwid, MD, David Oakes, PhD, and Ira Shoulson, MD, University of Rochester; M. Flint Beal, MD, Cornell University; Stanley Fahn, MD, Columbia University; Connie Marras, MD, and Anthony Lang, MD, University of Toronto, and Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD, Parkinson's Institute, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Massachusetts General Hospital (, established in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of $550 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine.

Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>