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Highly Accessed Review

Developments in the scientific and clinical understanding of gout

Alexander So

Author Affiliations

Service de Rhumatologie, Departement de Médecine, CHU Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Ave Pierre Decker, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2008, 10:221  doi:10.1186/ar2509

Published: 10 October 2008

Abstract

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in the elderly. In the last two decades, both hyperuricemia and gout have increased markedly and similar trends in the epidemiology of the metabolic syndrome have been observed. Recent studies provide new insights into the transporters that handle uric acid in the kidney as well as possible links between these transporters, hyperuricemia, and hypertension. The treatment of established hyperuricemia has also seen new developments. Febuxostat and PEG-uricase are two novel treatments that have been evaluated and shown to be highly effective in the management of hyperuricemia, thus enlarging the therapeutic options available to lower uric acid levels. Monosodium urate (MSU) crystals are potent inducers of inflammation. Within the joint, they trigger a local inflammatory reaction, neutrophil recruitment, and the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as other inflammatory mediators. Experimentally, the uptake of MSU crystals by monocytes involves interactions with components of the innate immune system, namely Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2, TLR-4, and CD14. Intracellularly, MSU crystals activate multiple processes that lead to the formation of the NALP-3 (NACHT, LRR, and pyrin domain-containing-3) inflammasome complex that in turn processes pro-interleukin (IL)-1 to yield mature IL-1β, which is then secreted. The inflammatory effects of MSU are IL-1-dependent and can be blocked by IL-1 inhibitors. These advances in the understanding of hyperuricemia and gout provide new therapeutic targets for the future.