uric acid

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Related to urate: Urate crystals, urate nephropathy

uric acid

(yo͝or`ĭk), white, odorless, tasteless crystalline substance formed as a result of purinepurine,
type of organic base found in the nucleotides and nucleic acids of plant and animal tissue. The German chemist Emil Fischer did much of the basic work on purines and introduced the term into the chemical literature in the early 20th cent.
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 degradation in man, other primates, dalmatians, birds, snakes, and lizards. The last three groups of animals also channel all amino acidamino acid
, any one of a class of simple organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and in certain cases sulfur. These compounds are the building blocks of proteins.
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 degradation into the formation of glycineglycine
, organic compound, one of the 20 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Glycine is the only one of these amino acids that is not optically active, i.e., it does not have d- and
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, aspartic acidaspartic acid
, organic compound, one of the 20 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Only the l-stereoisomer participates in the biosynthesis of proteins.
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, and glutamineglutamine
, organic compound, one of the 20 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Only the l-stereoisomer occurs in mammalian protein.
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, which combine to form purines and finally uric acid; these so-called uricotelic organisms thus excrete uric acid as the major end-product of the metabolism of all nitrogen-containing compounds. Uric acid is a very weak organic acid that is barely soluble in water and insoluble in alcohol and ether. The urates are its salts. Uric acid is present in human urine only in extremely small amounts but constitutes a large part of the body waste matter of birds (see guanoguano
, dried excrement of sea birds and bats found principally on the coastal islands of Peru, Africa, Chile, and the West Indies. It contains about 6% phosphorus, 9% nitrogen, 2% potassium, and moisture. Guano is found mixed with feathers and bones and is used as a fertilizer.
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) and of reptiles. It collects sometimes in the human kidneys or bladder in calculi, or stones, and is responsible, when present in tissues or deposited upon bones in the form of urates, for gouty conditions (see goutgout,
condition that manifests itself as recurrent attacks of acute arthritis, which may become chronic and deforming. It results from deposits of uric acid crystals in connective tissue or joints.
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). It occurs also in normal human blood. The pure acid is obtained from guano and other similar substances. Upon decomposition urea is obtained. A common test for the presence of the acid in urine depends upon the formation of murexide (an ammonium salt), which is an intense reddish purple. Nitric acid is added to the urine, which is then evaporated. If uric acid is present, murexide is formed when ammonia is added to the residue.

Uric acid

The main excretory end product of protein metabolism in certain species of birds and reptiles. In mammals, uric acid is derived from purines; in higher primates, including humans, it is excreted as such and is not oxidized to allantoin, the main excretory purine metabolism product of most species. In humans, uric acid levels are increased following excessive intake of dietary purines, primary synthesis in certain diseases (gout, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome), endogenous nucleic acid metabolism (leukemia, an abnormal number of erythrocytes in blood, chemotherapy-induced tumor lysis), and restricted renal excretion (renal diseases, ketoacidosis, lacticidosis, diuretics). Uric acid levels are lowered by the use of drugs causing increased uric acid excretion, and by renal tubular defects. See Liver, Nucleic acid, Protein metabolism, Purine

Uric Acid


(2,6,8-trioxypurine), a colorless, crystalline solid that is very slightly soluble in water and that decomposes below the melting point. Uric acid, which was discovered in 1776 by K. Scheele as a component of urine, can exist in two forms— keto and enol:

In man and primates, uric acid is the end product of purine metabolism, forming as a result of the enzymatic oxidation of xanthine; in all other mammals, uric acid is converted into allantoin. The brain, liver, and blood of all mammals and man, as well as the urine and sweat, contain small quantities of uric acid. Some metabolic disorders are characterized by an accumulation in the body of uric acid and of uric acid salts (called urates); gouty deposits and the formation of stones in the kidneys and urinary bladder often accompany these metabolic disorders.

In birds, some reptiles, and most terrestrial insects, uric acid is the end product not only of purine metabolism but also of protein metabolism. Because an organism requires only a minimal amount of water in order to eliminate uric acid from the body (uric acid can even be eliminated as a solid), these animals, which have a limited water balance, use the uric acid biosynthetic pathway as the primary mechanism for neutralizing ammonia. (The neutralization is advantageous because ammonia is a more toxic product of nitrogen metabolism than uric acid.) This mechanism is in contrast to the mechanism found in most vertebrates, which have a more complete water balance and thus use the urea biosynthetic pathway as a means of neutralizing ammonia. (Urea requires much water to be safely eliminated from the body.)

Up to 25 percent of avian excrement, or guano, is uric acid; thus, the excrement serves as a source for obtaining uric acid. Uric acid is also found in a number of plants. It is the starting material for the synthesis of caffeine.


Prosser, C. L., and F. Brown. Sravnitel’naia fiziologiia zhivotnykh. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from English.)


uric acid

[′yu̇r·ik ′as·əd]
C5H4N4O3 A white, crystalline compound, the excretory end product in amino acid metabolism by uricotelic species.

uric acid

a white odourless tasteless crystalline product of protein metabolism, present in the blood and urine; 2,6,8-trihydroxypurine. Formula: C5H4N4O3
References in periodicals archive ?
It inhibits urate reabsorption in the proximal convoluted tubule.
The interaction of monosodium urate with connective tissue components.
Urate levels need checking a month after diagnosis so treatment can be altered if needs be.
Ultrasonography shows disappearance of monosodium urate crystal deposition on hyaline cartilage after sustained normouricemia is achieved.
Glut9 is a major regulator of urate homeostasis and its genetic inactivation induces hyperuricosuria and urate nephropathy.
Histological examination demonstrated urate crystals from the aspirate of hand and retrocalcaneal region and confirmed the carpal involvement.
We also measured serum levels of citrate, calcium, urate, oxalate, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium.
Studies on the interaction of rheumatoid factor with monosodium urate crystals and case report of coexistent tophaceous gout and rheumatoid arthritis.
The study, published in the Archives of Neurology journal, found there was no immediate proof that raising urate levels could help combat the disease.
Commenting on how the vitamin may be protecting against gout, the researchers noted that vitamin C may reduce levels of uric acid in the blood thereby preventing the formation of the urate crystal.
4], TBARS, glucose, urate and CORT, and activity of CK (p>0.