OBJECTIVES: We aimed to investigate the role of serum uric acid (SUA) level in a broad spectrum of disease outcomes using data for 120 091 individuals from UK Biobank.
METHODS: We performed a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) to identify disease outcomes associated with SUA genetic risk loci. We then implemented conventional Mendelian randomisation (MR) analysis to investigate the causal relevance between SUA level and disease outcomes identified from PheWAS. We next applied MR Egger analysis to detect and account for potential pleiotropy, which conventional MR analysis might mistake for causality, and used the HEIDI (heterogeneity in dependent instruments) test to remove cross-phenotype associations that were likely due to genetic linkage.
RESULTS: Our PheWAS identified 25 disease groups/outcomes associated with SUA genetic risk loci after multiple testing correction (P<8.57e-05). Our conventional MR analysis implicated a causal role of SUA level in three disease groups: inflammatory polyarthropathies (OR=1.22, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.34), hypertensive disease (OR=1.08, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.14) and disorders of metabolism (OR=1.07, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.14); and four disease outcomes: gout (OR=4.88, 95% CI 3.91 to 6.09), essential hypertension (OR=1.08, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.14), myocardial infarction (OR=1.16, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.30) and coeliac disease (OR=1.41, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.89). After balancing pleiotropic effects in MR Egger analysis, only gout and its encompassing disease group of inflammatory polyarthropathies were considered to be causally associated with SUA level. Our analysis highlighted a locus (ATXN2/S2HB3) that may influence SUA level and multiple cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases via pleiotropy.
CONCLUSIONS: Elevated SUA level is convincing to cause gout and inflammatory polyarthropathies, and might act as a marker for the wider range of diseases with which it associates. Our findings support further investigation on the clinical relevance of SUA level with cardiovascular, metabolic, autoimmune and respiratory diseases.
- Journal Article