It's historically known as 'the king of diseases and the disease of kings' and was long thought to be caused by an overindulgent lifestyle, but now scientists at The University of Nottingham have confirmed that 'gout' strongly runs in families.
Researchers in the Division of Rheumatology, Orthopaedics and Dermatology studied the whole population of Taiwan (23 million) where gout is most prevalent in the world. The findings have just been published in the leading rheumatology journal, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
By examining 4.2 million identifiable families, the scientists found compelling evidence that the disease clusters in families, with increased risks for people with first and second degree relatives suffering from gout.
Gout is a kind of inflammatory arthritis, with sudden onset of acute pain, redness and swelling in peripheral joints, most commonly the joint in the big toe. It is caused by the deposition of monosodium urate crystals, which is related to high uric acid in the blood. The resulting acute arthritis and lumps around the joint cause disability due to pain and loss of joint function.
There is also increasing evidence that gout is not only a disease of joints but also is associated with major cardiovascular (heart attack, stroke) and renal diseases (kidney failure).
Previous studies had suggested that gout often clusters within families, which is indirect evidence for a role of genetic factors in causation. However, one recent classic twin study paradoxically found strong heritability for high uric acid but no evidence for heritability in gout.
Lead researcher on the project, Dr Chang Fu Kuo, said: "Our results confirm the clinical belief that gout strongly clusters within families. In Taiwan the risk of an individual with any first-degree relative suffering from gout is approximately twice that of the normal population.
"The risk increases with the number of the first-
|Contact: Emma Rayner|
University of Nottingham