The interplay between uric acid and antioxidants in relation to physical function in older persons

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Aug;55(8):1206-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01260.x.


Objectives: To investigate the relationship between circulating uric acid (UA) levels and plasma antioxidants and whether antioxidant levels modulate the association between UA and physical function.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Community-based.

Participants: Nine hundred sixty-six elderly persons participating in the baseline assessment of the Invecchiare in Chianti Study.

Measurements: UA, carotenoid, tocopherol, and selenium concentrations were assayed. Physical function was measured using the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) and difficulties in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Potential confounders were assessed using standardized methods.

Results: Total carotenoids (P=.008), in particular alpha-carotene (P=.02), lutein (P<.001), zeaxanthin (P<.001), lycopene (P=.07), cryptoxanthin (P=.29), and selenium (P=.04) were inversely associated with UA levels. Total tocopherols (P=.06) and alpha-tocopherol (P=.10) had a positive trend across UA levels. SPPB (P=.01) and IADL disability (P=.002) were nonlinearly distributed across the UA quintiles. Participants within the middle UA quintile (4.8-5.3 mg/dL) were less disabled in IADLs and had better SPPB scores than those in the extreme UA quintiles. There was a significant interaction between UA and selenium in the model predicting SPPB score (P=.02).

Conclusion: UA levels are inversely associated with circulating carotenoids and selenium. Participants with intermediate UA levels had a higher prevalence of good physical functions, higher SPPB scores, and lower IADL disability. This study suggests that older subjects with intermediate UA levels may have an optimum balance between proinflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may contribute to better physical performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Selenium / blood*
  • Tocopherols / blood*
  • Uric Acid / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Uric Acid
  • Carotenoids
  • Selenium
  • Tocopherols