Gout, uric acid and purine metabolism in paediatric nephrology

Pediatr Nephrol. 1993 Feb;7(1):105-18. doi: 10.1007/BF00861588.


Although gout and hyperuricaemia are usually thought of as conditions of indulgent male middle age, in addition to the well-known uricosuria of the newborn, there is much of importance for the paediatric nephrologist in this field. Children and infants may present chronically with stones or acutely with renal failure from crystal nephropathy, as a result of inherited deficiencies of the purine salvage enzymes hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) and adenine phosphoribosyltransferase (APRT) or of the catabolic enzyme xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH). Genetic purine overproduction in phosphoribosylpyrophosphate synthetase superactivity, or secondary to glycogen storage disease, can also present in infancy with renal complications. Children with APRT deficiency may be difficult to distinguish from those with HPRT deficiency because the insoluble product excreted, 2,8-dihydroxyadenine (2,8-DHA), is chemically very similar to uric acid. Moreover, because of the high uric acid clearance prior to puberty, hyperuricosuria rather than hyperuricaemia may provide the only clue to purine overproduction in childhood. Hyperuricaemic renal failure may be seen also in treated childhood leukaemia and lymphoma, and iatrogenic xanthine nephropathy is a potential complication of allopurinol therapy in these conditions. The latter is also an under-recognised complication of treatment in the Lesch-Nyhan syndrome or partial HPRT deficiency. The possibility of renal complications in these three situations is enhanced by infection, the use of uricosuric antibiotics and dehydration consequent upon fever, vomiting or diarrhoea. Disorders of urate transport in the renal tubule may also present in childhood. A kindred with X-linked hereditary nephrolithiasis, renal urate wasting and renal failure has been identified, but in general, the various rare types of net tubular wasting of urate into the urine are recessive and relatively benign, being found incidentally or presenting as colic from crystalluria. However, the opposite condition of a dominantly inherited increase in net urate reabsorption is far from benign, presenting as familial renal failure, with hyperuricaemia either preceding renal dysfunction or disproportionate to it. Paediatricians need to be aware of the lower plasma urate concentrations in children compared with adults when assessing plasma urate concentrations in childhood and infancy, so that early hyperuricosuria is not missed. This is of importance because most of the conditions mentioned above can be treated successfully using carefully controlled doses of allopurinol or means to render urate more soluble in the urine. Xanthine and 2,8-DHA are extremely insoluble at any pH. Whilst 2,8-DHA formation can also be controlled by allopurinol, alkali is contraindicated. A high fluid, low purine intake is the only possible therapy for XDH deficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gout / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism*
  • Purines / metabolism*
  • Uric Acid / metabolism*


  • Purines
  • Uric Acid