New biomarker for gout

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Gout that is not properly treated can also cause health damage between acute attacks. Radboud university medical center and Université Paris Cité discovered a new biomarker that allows the presence of uric acid crystals to be clearly monitored. This may make it possible to reduce health damage in the long term.

Increase in gout

The number of people with gout is increasing rapidly: more than 45 million people worldwide, mainly men, suffer from this rheumatic disease. This is a doubling compared to 30 years ago. The numbers will increase further due to an aging population and obesity. It is tempting for gout crystallization of uric acid in a joint causes painful attacks. Between gout attacks there are quiet periods in which the concentration of uric acid in the blood is still elevated. This ensures continuous, low inflammation, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney damage.

Inflammatory proteins

To gain more insight into the course of the disease process in gout, the researchers analyzed in 71 patients which inflammatory proteins are involved in the 3 different phases of gout: the acute flare, the calm intermediate period and the period in which the uric acid level is normalized by medication. Using proteomics techniques, the researchers studied more than 100 different proteins that may be involved in inflammatory processes. Four proteins appeared to play a prominent role in the acute phase of the gout attack, with the protein TNFSF14 in particular having a very important function. According to the researchers, this protein is a good new biomarker for gout.

Monitor gout

Research in mice has already shown that the TNFSF14 protein is produced locally in the joints by the uric acid crystals themselves. Now the researchers saw that this protein stimulates the production of other inflammatory factors, including various interleukins. The discovery offers opportunities to develop antibodies against TNFSF14. But good medication to treat a gout attack is already available. According to the researchers, the discovery of the protein mainly offers a new way to monitor gout. In addition, it can be useful to quickly see whether new medications for gout work or not.

Source: Radboudumc

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