PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Uric acid and cardio-metabolic risk factors : an epidemiological approach
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecineUniversité de LausanneUNIL - BugnonRue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111CH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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The role of serum uric acid (SUA) in cardio-metabolic conditions has long been contentious. It is still unclear if SUA is an independent risk factor or marker of cardio-metabolic conditions and most observed associations are not necessarily causal. This study aimed to further understand and explore the causal role of SUA in cardio-metabolic conditions using genetic and non-genetic epidemiological methods in population-based data. In the first part of this study, we found moderate to high heritability estimates for SUA and fractional excretion of urate (FEUA) suggesting the role of genetic factors in the etiology of hyperuricemia. With regards to the role of SUA on inflammatory markers (IMs), a strong positive association of SUA with C-reactive protein (CRP) and a weaker positive association with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) was observed, which was in part mediated by body mass index (BMI). These findings suggest that SUA may have a role in sterile inflammation. In view of the inconsistency surrounding the causal nature and direction of the relation between SUA and adiposity, we applied a bidirectional Mendelian randomization approach using genetic variants to decipher the association. The finding that elevated SUA is a consequence rather than a cause of adiposity was not totally unexpected and is compatible with the hypothesis that hyperinsulinemia, accompanying obesity, enhances renal proximal tubular reabsorption of uric acid. The fourth part of this study examined the relationship between SUA and blood pressure (BP) in young adults. The association between SUA and BP, significant only in females, was strongly attenuated upon adjustment for BMI. The possibility that BMI lies in the causal pathway may explain the attenuation observed in the associations of SUA with BP and IMs. Finally, a significant hockey-stick shaped association of SUA with social phobia in our data suggests a protective effect of SUA only up to a certain concentration. Although our study findings have shed some light on the uncertainty underlying the pathophysiology of SUA, more compelling evidence using longitudinal designs, randomized controlled trials and the use of robust genetic tools is warranted to increase our understanding of the clinical significance of SUA.
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