Men with high levels of uric acid in their blood may be less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests.
Researchers compared about 400 people in ongoing studies who developed Parkinson’s disease and more than 1,200 people in the same studies who did not develop the movement disorder.
Men with the highest levels of uric acid (urates) were nearly 40% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those with the lowest levels, according to the study published online Jan. 13 in the journal Neurology.
“These results suggest that urate could protect against Parkinson’s or slow the progression of the disease in its very early stages before symptoms are seen,” study author Dr. Xiang Gao, of Pennsylvania State University, said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.
“The findings support more research on whether raising the level of urate in people with early Parkinson’s may slow the disease down,” Gao added.
There was no association between urate levels and Parkinson’s disease risk in women, the study found.
Urate is formed when chemical called purines – found in food – are broken down in the body. Previous research has suggested that urate may help protect brain cells.
It’s easy and inexpensive to boost people’s urate levels, but it must be done with care because extremely high levels can cause kidney stones and gout, Gao said.
He explained that the study does not prove that high levels of urate protect against Parkinson’s disease, only that such levels are associated with a lower risk. Further research is needed to learn more about this association and why high levels of urate are not associated with lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in women, Gao added.
As noted, uric acid is a by-product in the breakdown of purines. Purines, like adenine and guanine, can act as neurotransmitters in the brain. We know that neurotransmitter imbalance is causative factor in Parkinson’s disease. I would suggest that the higher uric acid levels represent, in part, increased neurotransmitter activity, in the non-Parkinson’s patient. Increasing uric acid should not be a goal as it is just a waste product from neurotransmitter activity. Increasing neurotransmitter activity by natural methods, including diet modification and supplementation is a reasonable and obtainable goal.
L-dopa, used to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is a good example. L-dopamine is an amino acid, much like purines. When added to the diet it readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. There it is converted by vitamin B6 into L-dopa, a neurotransmitter. However, if the conversion occurs in the blood stream, L-dopa cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. L-dopa in the blood stream is very effective in reducing symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. I use the herb Velvet Bean as a source of L-dopamine in the treatment of both Parkinson’s disease and Restless Leg Syndrome. I then increase or decrease vitamin B6 intake to promote formation of L-dopa in the blood stream or the brain as needed.
The Bottom Line:
I would like to see a study that looks at dietary purine intake, vitamin B6 intake, and the onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Source: January 13, 2016 National Institutes of Health