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Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in Individuals with Hyperuricemia

  • Hyon K. Choi
    Correspondence
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Hyon K. Choi, MD, PhD, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, 895 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1L7, Canada.
    Affiliations
    Rheumatology Division, Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Department of Medicine, Vancouver General Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

    Channing Laboratory, Renal Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass
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  • Earl S. Ford
    Affiliations
    Division of Adult and Community Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.
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      Abstract

      Purpose

      The link between hyperuricemia and insulin resistance has been noted, but the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome by recent definitions among individuals with hyperuricemia remains unclear. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome according to serum uric acid levels in a nationally representative sample of US adults.

      Methods

      By using data from 8669 participants aged 20 years and more in The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994), we determined the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome at different serum uric acid levels. We used both the revised and original National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP/ATP) III criteria to define the metabolic syndrome.

      Results

      The prevalences of the metabolic syndrome according to the revised NCEP/ATP III criteria were 18.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.8-21.0) for uric acid levels less than 6 mg/dL, 36.0% (95% CI, 32.5-39.6) for uric acid levels from 6 to 6.9 mg/dL, 40.8% (95% CI, 35.3-46.4) for uric acid levels from 7 to 7.9 mg/dL, 59.7% (95% CI, 53.0-66.4) for uric acid levels from 8 to 8.9 mg/dL, 62.0% (95% CI, 53.0-66.4) for uric acid levels from 9 to 9.9 mg/dL, and 70.7% for uric acid levels of 10 mg/dL or greater. The increasing trends persisted in subgroups stratified by sex, age group, alcohol intake, body mass index, hypertension, and diabetes. For example, among individuals with normal body mass index (<25 kg/m2), the prevalence increased from 5.9% (95% CI, 4.8-7.0), for a uric acid level of less than 6 mg/dL, to 59.0%, (95% CI, 20.1-97.9) for a uric acid level of 10 mg/dL or greater. With the original NCEP/ATP criteria, the corresponding prevalences were slightly lower.

      Conclusions

      These findings from a nationally representative sample of US adults indicate that the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome increases substantially with increasing levels of serum uric acid. Physicians should recognize the metabolic syndrome as a frequent comorbidity of hyperuricemia and treat it to prevent serious complications.

      Keywords

      The metabolic syndrome, which consists of multiple interrelated conditions, increases the risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,
      • Grundy S.M.
      • Cleeman J.I.
      • Daniels S.R.
      • et al.
      Diagnosis and management of the metabolic syndrome: an American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Scientific Statement.

      American Heart Association. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3033454. Accessed December 15, 2005.

      • Wilson P.W.
      • D’Agostino R.B.
      • Parise H.
      • Sullivan L.
      • Meigs J.B.
      Metabolic syndrome as a precursor of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
      • Haffner S.M.
      Risk constellations in patients with the metabolic syndrome: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment patterns.
      as well as mortality from cardiovascular disease and all causes.
      • Malik S.
      • Wong N.D.
      • Franklin S.S.
      • et al.
      Impact of the metabolic syndrome on mortality from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and all causes in United States adults.
      • Lakka H.M.
      • Laaksonen D.E.
      • Lakka T.A.
      • et al.
      The metabolic syndrome and total and cardiovascular disease mortality in middle-aged men.
      • Trevisan M.
      • Liu J.
      • Bahsas F.B.
      • Menotti A.
      Risk Factor and Life Expectancy Research Group
      Syndrome X and mortality: a population-based study.
      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      • Ford E.S.
      Risks for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes associated with the metabolic syndrome: a summary of the evidence.
      The syndrome affects more than 50 million Americans.

      American Heart Association. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3033454. Accessed December 15, 2005.

      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      • The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome increases substantially with increasing levels of hyperuricemia.
      • The symptoms of metabolic syndrome increase with increasing levels of hyperuricemia, including abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high fasting glucose.
      • Physicians should recognize the metabolic syndrome as a frequent comorbidity of hyperuricemia and treat it to prevent serious complications.
      A number of studies reported significant associations between serum uric acid levels and individual components of the metabolic syndrome,
      • Lee J.
      • Sparrow D.
      • Vokonas P.S.
      • Landsberg L.
      • Weiss S.T.
      Uric acid and coronary heart disease risk: evidence for a role of uric acid in the obesity-insulin resistance syndrome The Normative Aging Study.
      • Rathmann W.
      • Funkhouser E.
      • Dyer A.R.
      • Roseman J.M.
      Relations of hyperuricemia with the various components of the insulin resistance syndrome in young black and white adults: the CARDIA study Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults.
      • Emmerson B.
      Hyperlipidaemia in hyperuricaemia and gout.
      • Fam A.G.
      Gout, diet, and the insulin resistance syndrome.
      • Choi H.K.
      • Mount D.B.
      • Reginato A.M.
      Pathogenesis of gout.
      but the scope of prevalence of the metabolic syndrome using recent definitions among individuals with hyperuricemia is unknown. Renal clearance of urate is inversely related to the degree of insulin resistance.
      • Facchini F.
      • Chen Y.D.
      • Hollenbeck C.B.
      • Reaven G.M.
      Relationship between resistance to insulin-mediated glucose uptake, urinary uric acid clearance, and plasma uric acid concentration.
      Thus, the reduced renal excretion of urate among patients with the metabolic syndrome may explain the increased frequency of hyperuricemia. On the basis of these data, hyperuricemia has been suggested as a simple marker of the metabolic syndrome.
      • Emmerson B.
      Hyperlipidaemia in hyperuricaemia and gout.
      • Fam A.G.
      Gout, diet, and the insulin resistance syndrome.
      • Snaith M.L.
      Gout: diet and uric acid revisited.
      However, without clear knowledge about the prevalence of the syndrome among individuals with hyperuricemia, the potential utility of the marker remains unclear. Furthermore, if the prevalence varies substantially depending on the degree of hyperuricemia, the information should be reflected in an index of clinical suspicion for the co-presence of the metabolic syndrome.
      To address these issues, we determined the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among individuals with different serum uric acid levels as determined by the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).

      Methods

      Study Population

      Conducted between 1988 and 1994, the NHANES III included a representative sample of the non-institutionalized US civilian population, which was selected using a multistage, stratified sampling design. Persons 60 years and older and African American and Mexican American persons were oversampled. In the current study, we analyzed data for 8669 men and nonpregnant women aged at least 20 years who attended the medical examination, had fasted at least 8 hours before the blood collection, and had complete information to allow definition of the metabolic syndrome
      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      and measurement of serum uric acid levels.

      Assessment of the Metabolic Syndrome

      We used both the revised and original National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP/ATP) III criteria to define the metabolic syndrome. According to the original NCEP/ATP III criteria,
      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      National Institutes of Health
      participants with 3 or more of the following criteria were defined as having the metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity (waist circumference>102 cm in men and>88 cm in women); hypertriglyceridemia (≥150 mg/dL [1.70 mmol/L]); low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (<40 mg/dL [1.04 mmol/L] in men and<50 mg/dL [1.30 mmol/L] in women); high blood pressure (≥130/85 mm Hg); and high fasting glucose (≥110 mg/dL [≥6.1 mmol/L]). We counted participants who reported currently using antihypertensive or antidiabetic medication (insulin or oral agents) as participants with high blood pressure or diabetes, respectively.
      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      Because the original NCEP/ATP III criteria were recently revised to require a lower fasting glucose level (ie, ≥100 mg/dL [≥5.6 mmol/L]),
      • Grundy S.M.
      • Cleeman J.I.
      • Daniels S.R.
      • et al.
      Diagnosis and management of the metabolic syndrome: an American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Scientific Statement.
      • Grundy S.M.
      • Brewer Jr, H.B.
      • Cleeman J.I.
      • Smith Jr, S.C.
      • Lenfant C.
      Definition of metabolic syndrome: Report of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/American Heart Association conference on scientific issues related to definition.
      we report our results using the original criteria, as well as those using the revised criteria in this study. Serum triglycerides were measured enzymatically after hydrolyzation to glycerol (Hitachi 704 Analyzer; Hitachi, Tokyo, Japan). HDL cholesterol was measured after the precipitation of other lipoproteins with a heparin-manganese chloride mixture (Hitachi 704 Analyzer).
      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      Serum glucose concentration was measured using an enzymatic reaction (Cobas Mira assay; Roche, Basel, Switzerland). Details about the laboratory procedures of all these tests are published elsewhere.
      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      Three blood pressure readings were obtained in the mobile examination center. The average of the second and third systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings was used in the analyses.

      Uric Acid Measurement

      Serum uric acid was measured by oxidization with the specific enzyme uricase to form allantoin and H2O2 (Hitachi Model 737 Multichannel Analyzer, Boehringer Mannheim Diagnostics, Indianapolis, Ind) as detailed elsewhere.
      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      Values are reported in milligrams per deciliter; to convert to micromoles per liter, multiply by 59.48.

      Statistical Analysis

      All statistical analyses were performed using survey commands of STATA (ie, SVY) to incorporate sample weights and adjust for clusters and strata of the complex sample design (Version 9, STATA Corporation, College Station, Tex). The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (%) among the total study population was calculated according to 6 categories of serum uric acid levels: less than 6 mg/dL, 6 to 6.9 mg/dL, 7 to 7.9 mg/dL, 8 to 8.9 mg/dL, 9 to 9.9 mg/dL, and 10 mg/dL or more. We performed a logistic regression to evaluate the association between uric acid categories of 6 mg/dL or greater and the metabolic syndrome compared with the lowest uric acid level category (<6 mg/dL) and calculated unadjusted odds ratios (OR), and age- and sex-adjusted OR. We calculated multivariate OR after adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status (current, former, or never), body mass index (BMI) (6 categories), physical activity (5 categories), alcohol consumption (drinks per month), diabetes (by self-report of a physician diagnosis or fasting glucose126 mg/dL [≥6.99 mmol/L]), total energy intake (continuous), glycemic load (quintiles), calcium intake (quintiles), magnesium intake (quintiles), and cereal fiber intake (quintiles). These covariate data were based on corresponding questionnaires of the NHANES III, including a food frequency questionnaire, single 24-hour dietary recall, and physical activity data.
      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      • Ford E.S.
      • Liu S.
      Glycemic index and serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration among us adults.
      • Choi H.K.
      • Atkinson K.
      • Karlson E.W.
      • Willett W.C.
      • Curhan G.
      Alcohol intake and risk of incident gout in men—a prospective study.
      • Choi H.K.
      • Seeger J.D.
      Glucocorticoid use and serum lipid levels in US adults: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      Trends across categories of serum uric acid levels were assessed in logistic regression models by using the median values of each category.
      We also calculated prevalences by demographic factors (sex and age group) and by major associated factors of hyperuricemia, including BMI (<25 vs25 kg/m2); alcohol intake (use or no use); hypertension (high blood pressure as defined above or antihypertensive medication use); and diabetes (by self-report of a physician diagnosis or fasting glucose126 mg/dL [≥6.99 mmol/L]). For these subgroup analyses, we grouped uric acid levels in 4 categories: less than 6 mg/dL, 6 to 7.9 mg/dL, 8 to 9.9 mg/dL, and 10 mg/dL or more. For all measures, we calculated 95% confidence intervals (CIs). All P values are 2-sided.

      Results

      The mean age of the study sample was 44 years, 50% were male, 76% were white, and the mean BMI was 26.5 kg/m2. The mean uric acid level was 5.42 mg/dL (95% CI, 5.37-5.46 mg/dL). There was a graded increase in the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome according to the revised NCEP/ATP III criteria among individuals with increasing levels of serum uric acid, up to 70% (95% CI, 51.4-89.9) among individuals with serum uric acid level of 10 mg/dL or greater (Table 1). Similarly, the increasing trend was evident with the original NCEP/ATP criteria, although the corresponding prevalences were slightly lower. There were increasing trends of ORs for the association between increasing levels of serum uric acid and the metabolic syndrome (P values for trend in unadjusted, age- and-sex adjusted, and multivariate analyses<.001) (Table 1). Similarly, the prevalence of individual metabolic abnormalities increased with increasing levels of serum uric acid, except for a slight decrease in the prevalence of abdominal obesity in the highest category of uric acid level (Table 2).
      Table 1Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome According to Serum Uric Acid Levels
      Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III.
      Uric Acid Levels (mg/dL)
      <66-6.97-7.98-8.99-9.9≥10
      Revised NCEP/ATP III
       Prevalence, % (95% CI)18.9 (16.8-21.0)36.0 (32.5-39.6)40.8 (35.3-46.4)59.7 (53.0-66.4)62.0 (41.1-83.0)70.7 (51.4-89.9)
       Unadjusted OR (95% CI)1.02.42 (2.03-2.88)2.96 (2.31-3.80)6.36 (4.80-8.43)7.02 (2.86-17.25)10.34 (4.10-26.05)
       Age- and sex-adjusted OR (95% CI)1.02.91 (2.32-3.66)3.60 (2.68-4.85)7.49 (5.36-10.45)8.98 (3.43-23.55)6.25 (2.22-17.58)
       Multivariate OR
      Adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status (current, former, or never), BMI (6 categories), physical activity (5 categories), alcohol consumption (drinks per month), diabetes (by self-report of a physician diagnosis or fasting glucose ≥126 mg/dL [≥6.99 mmol/L]), total energy intake (continuous), glycemic load (quintiles), calcium intake (quintiles), magnesium intake (quintiles), and cereal fiber intake (quintiles).
      (95% CI)
      1.02.29 (1.85-2.83)2.49 (1.79-3.49)5.23 (3.82-7.17)5.71 (2.51-12.96)6.50 (1.85-22.76)
      Original NCEP/ATP III
       Prevalence, % (95% CI)15.6 (13.7-17.4)30.5 (27.0-34.0)32.7 (27.5-37.8)53.8 (45.8-61.7)48.7 (31.1-66.2)66.6 (48.0-85.2)
       Unadjusted OR (95% CI)1.02.38 (1.95-2.90)2.63 (2.02-3.41)6.31 (4.59-8.66)5.14 (2.45-10.77)10.81 (4.65-25.15)
       Age- and sex-adjusted OR (95% CI)1.02.98 (2.34-3.79)3.28 (2.38-4.53)7.85 (5.43-11.33)6.59 (2.80-15.51)7.27 (2.89-18.25)
       Multivariate OR
      Adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status (current, former, or never), BMI (6 categories), physical activity (5 categories), alcohol consumption (drinks per month), diabetes (by self-report of a physician diagnosis or fasting glucose ≥126 mg/dL [≥6.99 mmol/L]), total energy intake (continuous), glycemic load (quintiles), calcium intake (quintiles), magnesium intake (quintiles), and cereal fiber intake (quintiles).
      (95% CI)
      1.02.26 (1.80-2.85)2.13 (1.50-3.02)5.57 (3.80-8.17)4.00 (1.44-11.1)7.95 (2.36-26.8)
      OR = odds ratio; CI = confidence interval; NCEP/ATP = National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel.
      low asterisk Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III.
      Adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status (current, former, or never), BMI (6 categories), physical activity (5 categories), alcohol consumption (drinks per month), diabetes (by self-report of a physician diagnosis or fasting glucose ≥126 mg/dL [≥6.99 mmol/L]), total energy intake (continuous), glycemic load (quintiles), calcium intake (quintiles), magnesium intake (quintiles), and cereal fiber intake (quintiles).
      Table 2Prevalence of Individual Metabolic Abnormalities of the Metabolic Syndrome According to Serum Uric Acid Levels
      Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III.
      Uric Acid Levels (mg/dL)<66-7.98-9.9≥10
      Abdominal obesity32.1 (30.1-34.2)41.5 (38.7-44.2)57.7 (51.1-64.4)49.2 (28.4-70.0)
      Hypertriglyceridemia20.2 (17.7-22.7)42.9 (39.6-46.2)55.9 (47.0-64.9)64.7 (45.5-83.8)
      Low HDL cholesterol33.1 (30.6-35.6)43.3 (39.0-47.7)51.4 (44.2-58.7)59.4 (41.1-77.8)
      High blood pressure or medication use24.5 (22.7-26.3)41.3 (38.0-44.6)60.7 (52.8-68.5)84.7 (70.7-98.6)
      Fasting glucose ≥110 mg/dL or medication use8.6 (7.5-9.6)16.0 (14.2-17.8)20.1 (14.2-26.0)35.6 (15.0-56.2)
      Fasting glucose ≥100 mg/dL or medication use22.6 (20.4-24.9)36.6 (34.3-39.0)39.4 (30.7-48.1)53.8 (32.4-75.3)
      HDL = high-density lipoprotein.
      low asterisk Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III.
      The increasing trends with increasing uric acid levels persisted in both sexes, but the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among women tended to be higher than among men at a given category of uric acid levels of 6 mg/dL or more (Figure 1). The general increasing trends with increasing uric acid levels tended to persist among different age groups (Figure 2), but precision of the weighted prevalence estimates, particularly in the highest uric acid category, seemed unstable with the smaller subgroup sizes.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome according to serum uric acid levels stratified by sex. Error bars indicate 95% CIs. Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III. NCEP/ATP=National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel.
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome according to serum uric acid levels stratified by age group. Error bars indicate 95% CIs. Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III. NCEP/ATP=National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel.
      We also stratified the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome by major associated factors of hyperuricemia (ie, BMI, alcohol use, hypertension, and diabetes) (Table 3). As expected, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was higher when these stratified factors were present. However, all stratified prevalences substantially and significantly increased with increasing levels of serum uric acid. For example, even among individuals with normal BMI (<25 kg/m2), the prevalence increased from 5.9% (95% CI, 4.8-7.0), for a uric acid level less than 6 mg/dL, to 59.0%, (20.1-97.9) for a uric acid level of 10 mg/dL or more (Table 3).
      Table 3Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome According to Serum Uric Acid Levels, Stratified by Major Associated Factors of Hyperuricemia
      Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III.
      Uric Acid Levels (mg/dL)Revised NCEP/ATP DefinitionOriginal NCEP/ATP III Definition
      <66-7.98-9.9≥10<66-7.98-9.9≥10
      BMI, kg/m2
       <25 (n = 3464)5.9 (4.8-7.0)13.5 (9.7-17.3)26.0 (11.5-40.4)59.0 (20.1-97.9)4.0 (3.0-4.9)9.2 (6.0-12.5)23.3 (8.0-38.6)59.0 (20.1-97.9)
       ≥25 (n = 5205)34.1 (30.4-37.8)48.6 (44.7-52.5)66.0 (58.8-73.3)75.5 (51.9-99.1)29.1 (25.9-32.4)41.2 (37.4-45.0)57.3 (49.4-65.2)69.8 (47.0-92.6)
      Alcohol use
       No (n = 4352)13.9 (11.5-16.3)28.8 (25.4-32.3)58.3 (47.0-69.6)57.0 (26.9-87.0)11.0 (9.1-12.9)21.6 (18.7-24.5)48.5 (37.6-59.4)49.9 (21.2-78.6)
       Yes (n = 4317)25.0 (22.7-27.3)50.6 (44.6-56.6)63.2 (47.3-79.1)88.9 (79.0-98.8)21.2 (18.8-23.6)45.4 (39.2-51.7)58.2 (42.9-73.5)88.9 (79.0-98.8)
      Hypertension
      High blood pressure or antihypertensive medication use (see “Methods” for details).
       No (n = 5335)8.7 (7.3-10.1)18.7 (16.0-21.3)35.1 (20.5-49.7)37.5 (00.0-79.1)6.6 (5.3-7.8)13.6 (10.6-16.6)24.2 (12.0-36.3)25.0 (00.0-60.0)
       Yes (n = 3334)50.2 (46.0-54.4)64.5 (59.6-69.5)76.7 (68.2-85.1)76.7 (56.3-97.0)43.3 (39.0-47.6)56.2 (51.8-60.6)70.8 (61.7-79.9)74.2 (54.2-94.1)
      Diabetes
      Self-reported physician diagnosis of diabetes or fasting glucose ≥ 126 mg/dL (≥6.99 mmol/L).
       No (n = 809)15.6 (13.9-17.4)33.4 (30.5-36.2)57.0 (49.8-64.1)66.6 (44.4-88.7)12.3 (10.8-13.8)26.5 (23.5-29.5)48.5 (41.5-55.6)62.0 (40.5-83.4)
       Yes (n = 7860)76.8 (70.0-83.7)87.4 (81.6-93.2)97.2 (93.5-100.)10074.7 (67.1-82.4)86.7 (80.7-92.8)96.0 (91.3-100)100
      NCEP/ATP = National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel; BMI = body mass index.
      low asterisk Data are presented incorporating sample weights and adjusted for clusters and strata of the complex sample design of NHANES III.
      High blood pressure or antihypertensive medication use (see “Methods” for details).
      Self-reported physician diagnosis of diabetes or fasting glucose ≥ 126 mg/dL (≥6.99 mmol/L).

      Discussion

      In this nationally representative sample of men and women, we found that there was a graded increase in the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among individuals with increasing levels of hyperuricemia, up to 70% among individuals with the highest serum uric acid levels (≥10 mg/dL). This prevalence was approximately 4 times that among adults with the lowest serum uric acid levels (<6 mg/dL). The increasing prevalence of individual metabolic abnormalities with increasing levels of hyperuricemia was apparent, and the graded increase persisted across the different subgroups stratified by age, sex, alcohol use, BMI, hypertension, and diabetes. Although the association between hyperuricemia and insulin resistance has been reported, this is the first population-based study to quantify the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome at different levels of hyperuricemia.
      There are several important implications of our results. The prevalence estimates determined in the current study provide the probabilities of concomitant presence of the metabolic syndrome among individuals with differing degrees of hyperuricemia. The presence of hyperuricemia, particularly at higher levels, should trigger a high level of clinical suspicion and investigation for a potential coexistence of the metabolic syndrome. If present, the syndrome needs to be recognized as a potentially more life-threatening factor than hyperuricemia,
      • Emmerson B.
      Hyperlipidaemia in hyperuricaemia and gout.
      given the serious associated complications.
      • Grundy S.M.
      • Cleeman J.I.
      • Daniels S.R.
      • et al.
      Diagnosis and management of the metabolic syndrome: an American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Scientific Statement.

      American Heart Association. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3033454. Accessed December 15, 2005.

      • Trevisan M.
      • Liu J.
      • Bahsas F.B.
      • Menotti A.
      Risk Factor and Life Expectancy Research Group
      Syndrome X and mortality: a population-based study.
      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      The cornerstones of treatment for the syndrome are managing weight and ensuring appropriate levels of physical activity.
      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      Recent studies demonstrated that lifestyle interventions or medications may delay or prevent the transition from impaired glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes mellitus and provide relevant treatment paradigms for patients with the metabolic syndrome.
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      Effects of diet and exercise in preventing NIDDM in people with impaired glucose tolerance The Da Qing IGT and Diabetes Study.
      Long-term dietary recommendations for the majority of individuals with hyperuricemia or gout should take this frequent comorbidity into account. For example, conventional dietary recommendations for hyperuricemia or gout have focused on restriction of purine intake, although low-purine diets are often high in carbohydrate and saturated fat.
      • Fam A.G.
      Gout, diet, and the insulin resistance syndrome.
      These macronutrients are associated with an increased risk of the insulin resistance syndrome and associated major consequences.
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      Gout in the elderly Clinical presentation and treatment.
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      • Stanwix A.E.
      • Joffe B.I.
      • Ramokgadi J.
      Beneficial effects of weight loss associated with moderate calorie/carbohydrate restriction, and increased proportional intake of protein and unsaturated fat on serum urate and lipoprotein levels in gout: a pilot study.
      • Parillo M.
      • Rivellese A.A.
      • Ciardullo A.V.
      • et al.
      A high-monounsaturated-fat/low-carbohydrate diet improves peripheral insulin sensitivity in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients.
      Furthermore, these macronutrients tend to lead to higher serum insulin levels, which are known to reduce renal excretion of urate,
      • Facchini F.
      • Chen Y.D.
      • Hollenbeck C.B.
      • Reaven G.M.
      Relationship between resistance to insulin-mediated glucose uptake, urinary uric acid clearance, and plasma uric acid concentration.
      • Dessein P.H.
      • Shipton E.A.
      • Stanwix A.E.
      • Joffe B.I.
      • Ramokgadi J.
      Beneficial effects of weight loss associated with moderate calorie/carbohydrate restriction, and increased proportional intake of protein and unsaturated fat on serum urate and lipoprotein levels in gout: a pilot study.
      • Ter Maaten J.C.
      • Voorburg A.
      • Heine R.J.
      • Ter Wee P.M.
      • Donker A.J.
      • Gans R.O.
      Renal handling of urate and sodium during acute physiological hyperinsulinaemia in healthy subjects.
      • Muscelli E.
      • Natali A.
      • Bianchi S.
      • et al.
      Effect of insulin on renal sodium and uric acid handling in essential hypertension.
      thus potentially further increasing the serum uric acid level. Given the frequent association between hyperuricemia and the metabolic syndrome, it is imperative to develop appropriate dietary and other lifestyle guidelines taking into account improving hyperuricemia and overall long-term health effects. In addition, the growing epidemics of obesity
      • Flegal K.M.
      • Carroll M.D.
      • Ogden C.L.
      • Johnson C.L.
      Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2000.
      • Freedman D.S.
      • Khan L.K.
      • Serdula M.K.
      • Galuska D.A.
      • Dietz W.H.
      Trends and correlates of class 3 obesity in the United States from 1990 through 2000.
      and the metabolic syndrome
      • Ford E.S.
      • Giles W.H.
      • Mokdad A.H.
      Increasing prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among U.S. Adults.
      present a substantial challenge in the prevention and management of gout with hyperuricemia.
      • Choi H.K.
      • Mount D.B.
      • Reginato A.M.
      Pathogenesis of gout.
      Because these conditions would likely also share important parts of public health and clinical management approaches, future studies may need to focus on developing the overall optimal strategies for improving these concurrent conditions.
      Our results expand on previous studies that showed a close relation between hyperuricemia and the insulin resistance syndrome,
      • Lee J.
      • Sparrow D.
      • Vokonas P.S.
      • Landsberg L.
      • Weiss S.T.
      Uric acid and coronary heart disease risk: evidence for a role of uric acid in the obesity-insulin resistance syndrome The Normative Aging Study.
      • Rathmann W.
      • Funkhouser E.
      • Dyer A.R.
      • Roseman J.M.
      Relations of hyperuricemia with the various components of the insulin resistance syndrome in young black and white adults: the CARDIA study Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults.
      • Emmerson B.
      Hyperlipidaemia in hyperuricaemia and gout.
      recent case series of gout and the metabolic syndrome,
      • Vazquez-Mellado J.
      • Conrado G.G.
      • Vazquez S.G.
      • et al.
      Metabolic syndrome and ischemic heart disease in gout.
      • Rho Y.H.
      • Choi S.J.
      • Lee Y.H.
      • et al.
      The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients with gout: a multicenter study.
      and our recent report about a high prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among those with gout,
      • Choi H.
      • Ford E.S.
      • Li C.
      • Curhan G.
      Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in patients with gout: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
      thereby supporting a pathogenetic overlap between these conditions. Higher insulin levels are known to reduce renal excretion of urate.
      • Facchini F.
      • Chen Y.D.
      • Hollenbeck C.B.
      • Reaven G.M.
      Relationship between resistance to insulin-mediated glucose uptake, urinary uric acid clearance, and plasma uric acid concentration.
      • Dessein P.H.
      • Shipton E.A.
      • Stanwix A.E.
      • Joffe B.I.
      • Ramokgadi J.
      Beneficial effects of weight loss associated with moderate calorie/carbohydrate restriction, and increased proportional intake of protein and unsaturated fat on serum urate and lipoprotein levels in gout: a pilot study.
      • Ter Maaten J.C.
      • Voorburg A.
      • Heine R.J.
      • Ter Wee P.M.
      • Donker A.J.
      • Gans R.O.
      Renal handling of urate and sodium during acute physiological hyperinsulinaemia in healthy subjects.
      • Muscelli E.
      • Natali A.
      • Bianchi S.
      • et al.
      Effect of insulin on renal sodium and uric acid handling in essential hypertension.
      For example, exogenous insulin can reduce the renal excretion of urate in both healthy and hypertensive subjects.
      • Emmerson B.
      Hyperlipidaemia in hyperuricaemia and gout.
      • Ter Maaten J.C.
      • Voorburg A.
      • Heine R.J.
      • Ter Wee P.M.
      • Donker A.J.
      • Gans R.O.
      Renal handling of urate and sodium during acute physiological hyperinsulinaemia in healthy subjects.
      • Muscelli E.
      • Natali A.
      • Bianchi S.
      • et al.
      Effect of insulin on renal sodium and uric acid handling in essential hypertension.
      Insulin may enhance renal urate reabsorption by stimulation of urate-anion exchanger URAT1
      • Enomoto A.
      • Kimura H.
      • Chairoungdua A.
      • et al.
      Molecular identification of a renal urate anion exchanger that regulates blood urate levels.
      and/or the Na+-dependent anion cotransporter in brush border membranes of the renal proximal tubule.
      • Choi H.K.
      • Mount D.B.
      • Reginato A.M.
      Pathogenesis of gout.
      In addition, because serum levels of leptin and urate tend to increase together,
      • Bedir A.
      • Topbas M.
      • Tanyeri F.
      • Alvur M.
      • Arik N.
      Leptin might be a regulator of serum uric acid concentrations in humans.
      • Fruehwald-Schultes B.
      • Peters A.
      • Kern W.
      • Beyer J.
      • Pfutzner A.
      Serum leptin is associated with serum uric acid concentrations in humans.
      some investigators have suggested the leptin may affect renal reabsorption.
      • Choi H.K.
      • Mount D.B.
      • Reginato A.M.
      Pathogenesis of gout.
      Finally, in the insulin resistance syndrome, impaired oxidative phosphorylation may increase systemic adenosine concentrations by increasing the intracellular levels of coenzyme A esters of long-chain fatty acids.
      • Choi H.K.
      • Mount D.B.
      • Reginato A.M.
      Pathogenesis of gout.
      Increased adenosine, in turn, can result in renal retention of sodium, urate, and water.
      • Bakker S.J.
      • Gans R.O.
      • ter Maaten J.C.
      • Teerlink T.
      • Westerhoff H.V.
      • Heine R.J.
      The potential role of adenosine in the pathophysiology of the insulin resistance syndrome.
      • Balakrishnan V.S.
      • Coles G.A.
      • Williams J.D.
      Effects of intravenous adenosine on renal function in healthy human subjects.
      • Balakrishnan V.S.
      • Coles G.A.
      • Williams J.D.
      A potential role for endogenous adenosine in control of human glomerular and tubular function.
      • Fransen R.
      • Koomans H.A.
      Adenosine and renal sodium handling: direct natriuresis and renal nerve-mediated antinatriuresis.
      Some have speculated that chronically increased extracellular adenosine concentrations may also contribute to hyperuricemia by increasing urate production.
      • Bakker S.J.
      • Gans R.O.
      • ter Maaten J.C.
      • Teerlink T.
      • Westerhoff H.V.
      • Heine R.J.
      The potential role of adenosine in the pathophysiology of the insulin resistance syndrome.
      The strengths and limitations of our study deserve comment. This study was performed in a nationally representative sample of US women and men; thus, the findings are likely to be generalizable to US men and women. The current study provides national estimates of the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among individuals with different levels of serum uric acid, a finding that the NHANES cross-sectional study design was well suited to address. However, the current cross-sectional design is not able to address potential temporal relations between hyperuricemia and the metabolic syndrome, which need to be evaluated by longitudinal studies. The 2 variables related in our study were ascertained objectively without reliance on study participants’ recall. Thus, recall bias, another generally recognized weakness of a cross-sectional design, is not applicable in this setting.

      Conclusion

      These findings from a nationally representative sample of US adults indicate that the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome increases substantially with increasing serum uric acid levels. These prevalence estimates should be reflected in an index of clinical suspicion for the concomitant presence of the metabolic syndrome. Physicians should recognize the metabolic syndrome as a frequent comorbidity of hyperuricemia and treat it to prevent serious complications.

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