The relation of uric acid to brain atrophy and cognition: the Rotterdam Scan Study

Neuroepidemiology. 2013;41(1):29-34. doi: 10.1159/000346606. Epub 2013 Mar 19.


Background: Uric acid has been associated with focal vascular brain disease. However, it is unknown whether uric acid also relates to global brain changes such as brain atrophy. We therefore studied the relation of uric acid to brain atrophy and whether this is accompanied by worse cognitive function.

Methods: In 814 persons of the population-based Rotterdam Study (mean age 62.0 years), we studied the relation of uric acid levels to brain tissue atrophy and cognition using linear regression models adjusted for age, sex and putative confounders. Brain atrophy was assessed using automated processing of magnetic resonance imaging. Cognition was assessed using a validated neuropsychological test battery and we computed compound scores of cognitive domains.

Results: Higher uric acid levels were associated with white matter atrophy [difference in Z-score of white matter volume per standard deviation increase in uric acid: -0.07 (95% CI: -0.12; -0.01)], but not with gray matter atrophy. This was particularly marked when comparing hyperuricemic to normouricemic persons [Z-score difference: -0.27 (-0.43; -0.11)]. Worse cognition was primarily found in persons with hyperuricemia [-0.28 (-0.48; -0.08)].

Conclusions: Hyperuricemia is related to white matter atrophy and worse cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperuricemia / complications
  • Hyperuricemia / pathology*
  • Hyperuricemia / psychology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychological Tests