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The Epidemiology and Genetics of Hyperuricemia and Gout across Major Racial Groups: A Literature Review and Population Genetics Secondary Database Analysis


J Pers Med. 2021 Mar 22;11(3):231. doi: 10.3390/jpm11030231.

Faven Butler 1Ali Alghubayshi 1Youssef Roman 1

Author Information

1 Department of Pharmacotherapy & Outcomes Science, School of Pharmacy, Virginia Commonwealth University, 410 N. 12th Street, Smith Building, Rm 334, Richmond, VA 23298-0533, USA.


Gout is an inflammatory condition caused by elevated serum urate (SU), a condition known as hyperuricemia (HU). Genetic variations, including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), can alter the function of urate transporters, leading to differential HU and gout prevalence across different populations. In the United States (U.S.), gout prevalence differentially affects certain racial groups. The objective of this proposed analysis is to compare the frequency of urate-related genetic risk alleles between Europeans (EUR) and the following major racial groups: Africans in Southwest U.S. (ASW), Han-Chinese (CHS), Japanese (JPT), and Mexican (MXL) from the 1000 Genomes Project. The Ensembl genome browser of the 1000 Genomes Project was used to conduct cross-population allele frequency comparisons of 11 SNPs across 11 genes, physiologically involved and significantly associated with SU levels and gout risk. Gene/SNP pairs included: ABCG2(rs2231142), SLC2A9 (rs734553), SLC17A1 (rs1183201), SLC16A9 (rs1171614), GCKR (rs1260326), SLC22A11 (rs2078267), SLC22A12 (rs505802), INHBC (rs3741414), RREB1 (rs675209), PDZK1(rs12129861), and NRXN2 (rs478607). Allele frequencies were compared to EUR using Chi-Square or Fisher's Exact test, when appropriate. Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons was used, with p < 0.0045 for statistical significance. Risk alleles were defined as the allele that is associated with baseline or higher HU and gout risks. The cumulative HU or gout risk allele index of the 11 SNPs was estimated for each population. The prevalence of HU and gout in U.S. and non-US populations was evaluated using published epidemiological data and literature review. Compared with EUR, the SNP frequencies of 7/11 in ASW, 9/11 in MXL, 9/11 JPT, and 11/11 CHS were significantly different. HU or gout risk allele indices were 5, 6, 9, and 11 in ASW, MXL, CHS, and JPT, respectively. Out of the 11 SNPs, the percentage of risk alleles in CHS and JPT was 100%. Compared to non-US populations, the prevalence of HU and gout appear to be higher in western world countries. Compared with EUR, CHS and JPT populations had the highest HU or gout risk allele frequencies, followed by MXL and ASW. These results suggest that individuals of Asian descent are at higher HU and gout risk, which may partly explain the nearly three-fold higher gout prevalence among Asians versus Caucasians in ambulatory care settings. Furthermore, gout remains a disease of developed countries with a marked global rising.