The findings of a new study have revealed that gout, which is actually a painful inflammatory condition, could establish a protective effect for the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers found that there was 24 percent reduced risk of the disease among patients who had a history of gout. The researchers led by the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and at Boston University Medical Centre in Boston found that the presence of uric acid in the blood of patients suffering from gout could be the possible reason for this protective effect.
Data was collected and analysed by the researchers for the study from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), an electronic medical record database from general practices that is representative of the UK general population, from Jan 1, 1995 to Dec 31, 2013.
During the period studied, they looked at 3.7 million people aged 40 and over who had been registered and enrolled with a practice for at least one year. The exclusion of individuals diagnosed with gout or any dementia prior to the start of follow-up from the study.
The researchers carried out an analysis of Alzheimer’s disease among adults who had gout, and compared them to 5 individuals who were similar in terms of age, the date at which they were entered for the study, and their body mass index, just for the fact that they were not affected by gout.
The participants were then followed till they developed Alzheimer’s disease or died, and overall, the researchers noted 309 new cases of the disease among the 59,224 patients with gout, and 1942 cases among 238,805 people without gout.
“Our findings provide the first population-based evidence for the potential protective effect of gout on the risk of AD [Alzheimers’ disease] and support the purported neuroprotective role of uric acid,” researchers concluded. “If confirmed by future studies, a therapeutic investigation that has been employed to prevent progression of PD [Parkinson’s disease] may be warranted for this relatively common and devastating condition.”
The findings of the study are now published in the British Medical Journal.