Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and high cholesterol. A study published in Nature Communications has linked uric acid to the development of metabolic syndrome.
Uric acid is a normal waste product removed from the body by the kidneys and intestines and released in urine and stool. Elevated levels of uric acid are associated with gout and metabolic syndrome. A protein called GLUT9 is an important transporter of uric acid.
“Uric acid may play a direct, causative role in the development of metabolic syndrome,” said first author Brian J. DeBosch, MD, PhD, an instructor in pediatrics. “Our work showed that the gut is an important clearance mechanism for uric acid, opening the door to new potential therapies for preventing or treating type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”
Experimenting on a mouse model revealed that inhibition of GLUT9 in the gut blocks the body’s ability to remove uric acid from the intestine. The mice were fed a regular diet and mice missing GLUT9 only in the gut quickly developed elevated uric acid in the blood and urine compared with control mice. At 6-8 weeks of age, they developed hallmarks of metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, high blood insulin and fatty liver deposits, among other symptoms.
Avoiding uric acid is impossible as it is a normal metabolic waste product. Diet may contribute to the levels found in the body. It has been found that fructose in the diet also drives uric acid production.
“Switching so heavily to fructose in foods over the past 30 years has been devastating,” Kelle H. Moley, MD the senior research author said. “There’s a growing feeling that uric acid is a cause, not a consequence, of metabolic syndrome. And now we know fructose directly makes uric acid in the liver. With that in mind, we are doing further research to study what happens to these mice on a high-fructose diet.”