Urate-induced immune programming: Consequences for gouty arthritis and hyperuricemia

Immunol Rev. 2020 Mar;294(1):92-105. doi: 10.1111/imr.12833. Epub 2019 Dec 19.


Trained immunity is a process in which innate immune cells undergo functional reprogramming in response to pathogens or damage-associated molecules leading to an enhanced non-specific immune response to subsequent stimulation. While this capacity to respond more strongly to stimuli is beneficial for host defense, in some circumstances it can lead to maladaptive programming and chronic inflammation. Gout is characterized by persistent low-grade inflammation and is associated with an increased number of comorbidities. Hyperuricemia is the main risk factor for gout and is linked to the development of comorbidities. Several experimental studies have shown that urate can mechanistically alter the inflammatory capacity of myeloid cells, while observational studies have indicated an association of hyperuricemia to a wide spectrum of common adult inflammatory diseases. In this review, we argue that hyperuricemia is a main culprit in the development of the long-term systemic inflammation seen in gout. We revisit existing evidence for urate-induced transcriptional and epigenetic reprogramming that could lead to an altered functional state of circulating monocytes consisting in enhanced responsiveness and maladaptive immune responses. By discussing specific functional adaptations of monocytes and macrophages induced by soluble urate or monosodium urate crystals and their contribution to inflammation in vitro and in vivo, we further enforce that urate is a metabolite that can induce innate immune memory and we discuss future research and possible new therapeutic approaches for gout and its comorbidities.

Keywords: gout; hyperuricemia; inflammation; innate immune memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Gouty / immunology*
  • Cellular Reprogramming
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Hyperuricemia / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Uric Acid / metabolism*


  • Uric Acid