Purines perform many important functions in the cell, being the formation of the monomeric precursors of nucleic acids DNA and RNA the most relevant one. Purines which also contribute to modulate energy metabolism and signal transduction, are structural components of some coenzymes and have been shown to play important roles in the physiology of platelets, muscles and neurotransmission. All cells require a balanced quantity of purines for growth, proliferation and survival. Under physiological conditions the enzymes involved in the purine metabolism maintain in the cell a balanced ratio between their synthesis and degradation. In humans the final compound of purines catabolism is uric acid. All other mammals possess the enzyme uricase that converts uric acid to allantoin that is easily eliminated through urine. Overproduction of uric acid, generated from the metabolism of purines, has been proven to play emerging roles in human disease. In fact the increase of serum uric acid is inversely associated with disease severity and especially with cardiovascular disease states. This review describes the enzymatic pathways involved in the degradation of purines, getting into their structure and biochemistry until the uric acid formation.
Keywords: Purine metabolism; Uric acid formation; Xanthine oxidase.
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