Gout in solid organ transplantation: a challenging clinical problem

Lisa Stamp, Martin Searle, John O'Donnell, Peter Chapman
Drugs 2005, 65 (18): 2593-611
Hyperuricaemia occurs in 5-84% and gout in 1.7-28% of recipients of solid organ transplants. Gout may be severe and crippling, and may hinder the improved quality of life gained through organ transplantation. Risk factors for gout in the general population include hyperuricaemia, obesity, weight gain, hypertension and diuretic use. In transplant recipients, therapy with ciclosporin (cyclosporin) is an additional risk factor. Hyperuricaemia is recognised as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease; however, whether anti-hyperuricaemic therapy reduces cardiovascular events remains to be determined. Dietary advice is important in the management of gout and patients should be educated to partake in a low-calorie diet with moderate carbohydrate restriction and increased proportional intake of protein and unsaturated fat. While gout is curable, its pharmacological management in transplant recipients is complicated by the risk of adverse effects and potentially severe interactions between immunosuppressive and hypouricaemic drugs. NSAIDs, colchicine and corticosteroids may be used to treat acute gouty attacks. NSAIDs have effects on renal haemodynamics, and must be used with caution and with close monitoring of renal function. Colchicine myotoxicty is of particular concern in transplant recipients with renal impairment or when used in combination with ciclosporin. Long-term urate-lowering therapy is required to promote dissolution of uric acid crystals, thereby preventing recurrent attacks of gout. Allopurinol should be used with caution because of its interaction with azathioprine, which results in bone marrow suppression. Substitution of mycophenylate mofetil for azathioprine avoids this interaction. Uricosuric agents, such as probenecid, are ineffective in patients with renal impairment. The exception is benzbromarone, which is effective in those with a creatinine clearance >25 mL/min. Benzbromarone is indicated in allopurinol-intolerant patients with renal failure, solid organ transplant or tophaceous/polyarticular gout. Monitoring for hepatotoxicty is essential for patients taking benzbromarone. Physicians should carefully consider therapeutic options for the management of hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, which are common in transplant recipients. While loop and thiazide diuretics increase serum urate, amlodipine and losartan have the same antihypertensive effect with the additional benefit of lowering serum urate. Atorvastatin, but not simvastatin, may lower uric acid, and while fenofibrate may reduce serum urate it has been associated with a decline in renal function. Gout in solid organ transplantation is an increasing and challenging clinical problem; it impacts adversely on patients' quality of life. Recognition and, if possible, alleviation of risk factors, prompt treatment of acute attacks and early introduction of hypouricaemic therapy with careful monitoring are the keys to successful management.

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