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This article is part of the supplement: Gout and Hyperuricemia

Highly Accessed Open Badges Review

The inflammatory process of gout and its treatment

Bruce N Cronstein1* and Robert Terkeltaub2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Medicine and Division of Clinical Pharmacology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

2 San Diego VAMC Rheumatology Section and University of California, San Diego, California, USA

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Citation and License

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8(Suppl 1):S3  doi:10.1186/ar1908

See related letter by Varughese and Varghese,

Published: 12 April 2006


Gouty arthritis is a characteristically intense acute inflammatory reaction that erupts in response to articular deposits of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals. Important recent molecular biologic advances in this field have given us a clear picture of the mechanistic basis of gouty inflammation. The innate immune inflammatory response is critically involved in the pathology of gout. Specifically, MSU crystals promote inflammation directly by stimulating cells via Toll-like receptor signaling and by providing a surface for cleavage of C5 and formation of complement membrane attack complex (C5b-9), culminating in secretion of cytokines, chemokines, and other inflammatory mediators with a dramatic influx of neutrophils into the joint. Despite the detailed mechanistic picture for gouty inflammation, there are no placebo-controlled, randomized clinical studies for any of the therapies commonly used, although comparative studies have demonstrated that many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are equivalent to indomethacin with respect to controlling acute gouty attacks. In general, the first line of anti-inflammatory therapy for acute gout is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and the selective cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor celecoxib can be used where appropriate. The second line of treatment is glucocorticosteroids, given systemically (oral, intravenous, or intramuscular) or intra-articularly. Alternatively, synthetic adrenocorticotropic hormone is effective, partly via induction of adrenal glucocorticosteroids and partly via rapid peripheral suppression of leukocyte activation by melatonin receptor 3 signaling. The third line of treatment is oral colchicine, which is highly effective when given early in an acute gouty attack, but it is poorly tolerated because of predictable gastrointestinal side effects.