Sept. 30, 2008 -- New discoveries about the genetic roots of gout may lead to new gout treatments and new tests to gauge a person's risk of developing gout.
Researchers including Abbas Dehghan, MD, of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands report that news in tomorrow's online edition of The Lancet.
Dehghan's team studied gene data from three long-term health studies that together included more than 26,700 participants in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
The key findings:
- Two new gout genes. Gout and high uric acid concentration were linked to certain variations in the ABCG2 or SL17A3 genes.
- Another gout gene confirmed. The researchers confirmed that a variation in the SLC2A9 gene is linked to uric acid concentration and gout risk.
- Gout gene risk score. The researchers calculated participants' odds of having gout, based on how many of the gout gene variants they had.
Each gene variant, by itself, carried a "modest" risk of gout, but together, those variants drove gout risk up higher. The findings held regardless of other factors that make gout more likely.
In their report, Dehghan and colleagues suggest that their genetic risk score might help predict who will develop gout. The researchers also write that the genes they identified "could be useful" in developing new drugs to improve gout treatment.
It's not clear if the genetic risk score will catch on, and scientists don't yet know exactly what the two new gout genes do, but the discoveries may lead to better understanding of gout, according to an editorial published with the study. The editorialists included Martin Aringer, MD, of Germany's Technical University of Dresden.
(What does gout look like? See WebMD's gout slide show.)