Effect of Allopurinol in Chronic Kidney Disease Progression
and Cardiovascular Risk
Marian Goicoechea, Soledad García de Vinuesa, Ursula Verdalles, Caridad Ruiz-Caro,
Jara Ampuero, Abraham Rinco ´n, David Arroyo, and Jose ´ Lun ˜o
Servicio de Nefrología, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Maran ˜o ´n, Madrid, Spain
Background and objectives: Hyperuricemia is associated with hypertension, inflammation, renal disease progression, and
cardiovascular disease. However, no data are available regarding the effect of allopurinol in patients with chronic kidney
Design, setting, participants, & measurements: We conducted a prospective, randomized trial of 113 patients with estimated
GFR (eGFR) <60 ml/min. Patients were randomly assigned to treatment with allopurinol 100 mg/d (n ? 57) or to continue the
usual therapy (n ? 56). Clinical, biochemical, and inflammatory parameters were measured at baseline and at 6, 12, and 24
months of treatment. The objectives of study were: (1) renal disease progression; (2) cardiovascular events; and (3) hospital-
izations of any causes.
Results: Serum uric acid and C-reactive protein levels were significantly decreased in subjects treated with allopurinol. In
the control group, eGFR decreased 3.3 ? 1.2 ml/min per 1.73 m2, and in the allopurinol group, eGFR increased 1.3 ? 1.3 ml/min
per 1.73 m2after 24 months. Allopurinol treatment slowed down renal disease progression independently of age, gender,
diabetes, C-reactive protein, albuminuria, and renin-angiotensin system blockers use. After a mean follow-up time of 23.4 ?
7.8 months, 22 patients suffered a cardiovascular event. Diabetes mellitus, previous coronary heart disease, and C-reactive
protein levels increased cardiovascular risk. Allopurinol treatment reduces risk of cardiovascular events in 71% compared with
Conclusions: Allopurinol decreases C-reactive protein and slows down the progression of renal disease in patients with
chronic kidney disease. In addition, allopurinol reduces cardiovascular and hospitalization risk in these subjects.
Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 5: ●●●–●●●, 2010. doi: 10.2215/CJN.01580210
compensation. By this, the prevalence of elevated serum UA in
patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is higher (1). Ele-
vated serum UA has been related to increased risk for the
development of hypertension and cardiovascular disease (2).
Chronic hyperuricemia would stimulate the renin-angiotensin
system and inhibit release of endothelial nitric oxide, contrib-
uting to renal vasoconstriction and increasing BP, at the same
time, high levels of UA may have a pathogenetic role in inter-
stitial inflammation and progression of renal disease (3,4).
Allopurinol decreases serum UA level by inhibiting the
enzyme xanthine oxidase. For animal models of established
renal diseases, correction of the hyperuricemic state can
significantly improve BP control, decreasing proteinuria and
slowing the progression of renal disease (4). There are few
data on patients with CKD that confirm these findings.
Recently, two studies of patients with CKD have been pub-
n patients with renal disease, there is decreased uric acid
(UA) urinary excretion, and whether this will give rise to
hyperuricemia depends on the gastrointestinal excretory
lished that show a relationship between serum UA levels and
cardiovascular mortality (5,6). However, prospective studies
are necessary to show that reduction of UA levels prevent
The primary objective of this study was to analyze the effect
of allopurinol in patients with moderate CKD in reduction of
inflammatory markers and renal disease progression. The sec-
ondary objective was to analyze the effect of allopurinol treat-
ment in cardiovascular and hospitalization risk.
Materials and Methods
The study was approved by the institutional ethics committee, and
each participating patient gave written informed consent before enroll-
One hundred thirty-five patients were followed up in our renal clinic
from January 2007 to May 2007 and screened for eligibility to partici-
pate in the study. Included subjects had to fulfill the following inclusion
criteria: (1) presence of renal disease, defined as having an estimated
GFR (eGFR) lower than 60 ml/min; (2) stable clinical condition in terms
of no hospitalizations nor cardiovascular events within the 3 months
before screening; and (3) stable renal function (baseline serum creati-
nine had not increased by 50% in the 3 months before screening).
We excluded patients with a history of allopurinol intolerance, those
who were already on allopurinol treatment, with active infections or
inflammatory diseases, with HIV infection, with chronic hepatopathy,
and patients who received immunosuppressive therapy.
Received February 18, 2010. Accepted April 26, 2010.
Published online ahead of print. Publication date available at www.cjasn.org.
Correspondence: Dr. Marian Goicoechea, Nephrology Unit, Hospital General
Universitario Gregorio Maran ˜o ´n, C/Drive Esquerdo, 46, 28007 Madrid, Spain.
Phone: 0034915868319; Fax: 0034915868683; E-mail: email@example.com
Copyright © 2010 by the American Society of NephrologyISSN: 1555-9041/508–0001
One hundred thirteen patients satisfied these criteria and were
Patients were randomly assigned according to a computer-generated
list into a control group or a treatment group. Treatment group patients
were administered a dose of 100 mg/d of allopurinol. The dosage of
antihypertensive drugs, lipid-lowering agents, and antiplatelet drugs
were continued and adjusted according to the individual patient’s
The mean time of follow-up was 23.4 ? 7.8 months. A patient flow
chart is showed in Figure 1. Systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), and
previous cardiovascular diseases were recorded. Serum creatinine,
daily urinary protein excretion, hemoglobin level, erythrocyte sedimen-
tation rate, C-reactive protein (CRP), C-cystatin, serum fibrinogen, and
serum albumin were checked basally and 6 and 12 months after treat-
ment. Modification of the Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD)-4 equation
was used to estimate glomerular filtration. Renal function was mea-
sured basally and at 6, 12, and 24 months after allopurinol treatment.
Routine clinical and biochemical variables were measured by stan-
dardized methods on autoanalyzers. High sensitive C-reactive protein
(hs-CRP) plasma level was measured with a latex-based turbidimetric
immunoassay on a Hitachi analyzer (Sigma Chemical Co, St. Louis,
MO). Daily urinary albumin excretion was measured with an immu-
Any adverse events considered to be related to the use of allopurinol
were recorded during the follow-up assessment. For serious adverse
events, allopurinol therapy would be discontinued.
The patient’s clinical outcome was analyzed after the follow-up time.
We defined study end points as followed: (1) hospitalizations; (2)
cardiovascular events; (3) end-stage renal disease requiring dialysis
therapy; and (4) mortality.
Cardiovascular event was considered if the patient had a myocardial
infarction, coronary revascularization, or angina pectoris. Congestive
heart failure (CHF) was diagnosed by x-ray examination (pulmonary
edema) and echocardiogram with left ventricular dysfunction. This
diagnostic was considered as the patients were symptomatic and in
New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II to IV with a left ventric-
ular ejection fraction ?45%. Cerebrovascular disease was established if
the patient had a history of transient ischemic attacks, whenever stroke
could be verified by computer tomography or carotid artery stenosis
?70% could be verified by doppler ultrasound. Peripheral vascular disease
was diagnosed by intermittent claudication, stenosis of the major ar-
teries of the lower limbs angiographically or sonographically proven,
and the presence of ulcers caused for atheroesclerotic disease or by
surgery was used for diagnosis.
Death and hospitalizations of any causes were accurately recorded.
Each event was reviewed by physicians. This information always in-
cluded study hospitalization records and in the case of an out-of-
hospital death, family members were interviewed by telephone to
better ascertain the circumstances surrounding death.
The laboratory researcher was unaware of the baseline clinical status
of the patients. Clinical data, including baseline and the outcomes of the
patients were recorded by clinicians who were unaware of the labora-
The statistical analysis was performed by intention to treat.
All statistical analysis were performed using the SPSS program,
version 16.0 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL) for Windows XP. Values are ex-
pressed as mean ? SD, mean ? SEM, or median (interquartile range).
Categorical data were compared by means of Chi-square test and
continous variables by means of t test. ANOVA test was used when
several parameters of the two groups were compared. Cox proportional
hazard models were used to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular events
and renal disease progression, adjusted for several groups of covari-
ates. Statistical significance is defined as two-tailed P less than 0.05.
A total of 113 patients were enrolled in the study. Fifty-six
patients were randomized to the control group and 57 patients
to the allopurinol group. Baseline characteristics, previous car-
diovascular diseases, concomitant medication, and laboratory
parameters are listed in Tables 1 and 2.
Biochemical, Inflammatory Parameters, and BP Control
BP control was similar in both groups, and no significant
differences were observed in the follow-up period in SBP and
DBP (Table 3).
After 24 months of allopurinol treatment, serum UA levels
were significantly decreased in subjects treated with allopuri-
nol, from 7.8 ? 2.1 mg/dl to 6.0 ? 1.2 mg/dl (P ? 0.000),
whereas serum UA levels for subjects in the control group
remain unchanged throughout the study period (7.3 ? 1.6
mg/dl at baseline and 7.5 ? 1.7 mg/dl at 24 months) (P ? 0.016
between groups and time period) (Table 4). The change in UA
levels at 24 months was ?0.3 ? 0.27 mg/dl in the control group
in comparison to ?1.6 ? 0.27 mg/dl in the allopurinol group
(P ? 0.000) (Figure 2).
hs-CRP median levels decreased significantly after 12 months
of allopurinol treatment (from 4.4 mg/L to 3.0 mg/L) (P ? 0.04
in comparison to baseline values), whereas the control group
remained unchanged in the follow-up period (from 3.4 to 3.2
mg/L). C-cystatin decreased significantly in the allopurinol
group from 1.9 ? 0.5 to 1.4 ? 0.4 mg/L after 12 months of
treatment. In the control group, C-cystatin levels remained
unchanged (P ? 0.008 between groups). There were no changes
Figure 1. Patient flow chart.
2 Clinical Journal of the American Society of NephrologyClin J Am Soc Nephrol 5: ●●●–●●●, 2010
in serum hemoglobin, serum fibrinogen, erythrocyte sedimen-
tation rate, and serum albumin levels after the 12-month study
period in both groups (Table 5).
Progression of Renal Disease
In the allopurinol group, there was no significant change in
eGFR (MDRD-4) after 24 months (from 40.8 ? 11.2 to 42.2 ?
13.2 ml/min per 1.73 m2), whereas in the control group, there
was worsening by the end of the study (from 39.5 ? 12.4 to
35.9 ? 12.3 ml/min) (P ? 0.000 between groups) (Table 4). In
the control group, eGFR decreased 3.3 ? 1.2 ml/min per 1.73
m2, and in allopurinol group, eGFR increased 1.3 ? 1.3 ml/min
per 1.73 m2after 24 months (P ? 0.018) (Figure 2).
We have evaluated the correlation between UA levels and
eGFR in the whole data and within each experimental group.
There is a significant inverse correlation between UA levels and
eGFR in all cases. The change in UA levels at 24 months has
been plotted against the change in eGFR (Figure 2), and we
found a significant inverse correlation between changes (r ?
?0375; P ? 0001).
Allopurinol treatment slowed renal disease progression
(defined as a decrease higher than 0.2 ml/min per 1.73 m2
per month) in comparison with control groups in a cox
regression model adjusted for age, gender, diabetes, UA,
hs-CRP levels, renin-angiotensin system blockers, CKD eti-
ology, and albuminuria (hazard ratio [HR], 0.53; [0.28 to
0.99]; P ? 0.048).
Cardiovascular Events, Hospitalizations, and Death
There were two deaths in the control group and two patients
required dialysis (one from the control group and one from the
After a mean follow-up time of 23.4 ? 7.8 months, 22
patients suffered a cardiovascular event: 15 in the control
group and seven in allopurinol group. Cardiovascular events
were: 8 congestive heart failures, 7 ischemic coronary events,
5 cerebrovascular accidents, 1 peripheric arteriopathy, and 1
arrythmia. Kaplan-Meier survival showed that patients in
the allopurinol group had lower cardiovascular risk than
patients in the control group (log rank: 4.25; P ? 0.039)
Regression cox analysis adjusted for age, eGFR change, and
UA levels showed that diabetes (P ? 0.004), CRP levels (P ?
0.031), and previous coronary arteriopathy (P ? 0.005) in-
creased the risk of cardiovascular events. Allopurinol treatment
decreased the risk of cardiovascular events in 71% (P ? 0.026)
Twenty-two patients from the control group and 12 from the
allopurinol group were hospitalized (P ? 0.032). Allopurinol
treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization in 62% in a cox
regression model that included age, eGFR, presence of diabetes
mellitus, and coronariopathy (HR, 0.378; [0.154 to 0.927]; P ?
Allopurinol was withdrawn in two patients for gastrointes-
tinal symptoms. No abnormalities in liver function test were
Table 1. Baseline analytical in control and allopurinol
(n ? 56)
(n ? 57)
C cystatine (mg/L)
Serum creatinine (mg/dl)
eGFR (ml/min per 1.73 m2)
Uric acid (mg/dl)
Serum fibrinogen (mg/dl)
Serum albumin (g/dl)
71.4 ? 9.5
1.9 ? 0,7
1.8 ? 0.6
39.5 ? 12.4
7.3 ? 1.6
374 ? 78
14.5 ? 4.6
4.4 ? 0.3
72.1 ? 7.9
1.9 ? 0.5
1.7 ? 0.4
40.6 ? 11.3
7.9 ? 2.1
381 ? 79
13.6 ? 1.7
4.3 ? 0.3
Variables are expressed as a mean ? SD or median
ESR, erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
No significant differences were observed between the
different analyzed variables.
Table 2. Baseline characteristics in the two groups
(n ? 56)
(n ? 57)
Renal pathology, % (n)
Polycystic kidney disease
Unknown etiology renal
Diabetes mellitus, % (n)
Ischemic cardiopathy, % (n)
Cerebrovascular disease, % (n)
Periferic vascular disease, % (n)
Diuretics use, % (n)
Thiazide diuretics, n
Loop diuretics, n
RAAS blockers, % (n)
Calcium-channel blockers, % (n)
Statins treatment, % (n)
Antiplatelet treatment, % (n)
Double treatment, % (n)
Triple treatment, % (n)
No significant differences were observed between the
different analyzed variables.
Double treatment, RAAS blockers and statins or
Triple treatment, RAAS blockers and statins and
Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 5: ●●●–●●●, 2010Effect of Allopurinal in Chronic Kidney Disease3
attributed to allopurinol treatment. No hematologic alterations
or serious adverse events in relation to allopurinol treatment
appeared in the follow-up study. Six patients in the control
group and three in the allopurinol group were lost during the
Patients with CKD develop hyperuricemia as GFR declines.
In different small randomized controlled trials, allopurinol
treatment resulted in the improvement of oxidative stress, en-
dotelial function (7,8), and progression of CKD (9).
In this study, we showed that allopurinol treatment de-
creases CRP levels, slows the progression of renal disease,
decreases the number of hospitalizations, and reduces cardio-
Allopurinol Treatment and Inflammation
A correlation of CRP, a marker of subclinical inflammation
related to atherosclerosis, and serum UA levels has been de-
scribed (10). A significant independent association was found
between UA and inflammatory markers, such as a white blood
cell count, CRP, interleukins, and TNF? levels. There is also
evidence that hyperuricemia per se impairs endothelial func-
tion-dependent vasodilation by the reduction in nitric oxid
synthase in animal experiments (11). There are no data regard-
ing the effect of allopurinol treatment in these inflammatory
markers in moderate CKD. In this work, we showed that allo-
purinol decreases hs-CRP levels after 12 months compared
with the control group.
Allopurinol Treatment and Progression of Renal Disease
An elevated UA level has been associated with a greater
incidence of end-stage renal disease. Hyperuricemia induces
high BP, renal afferent arteriopathy, increased glomerular hy-
drostatic pressure, and renal scarring. Kang et al. found that
hyperuricemic rats showed greater proteinuria, greater BP, and
greater serum creatinine levels than controls that were treated
with allopurinol to decrease serum UA levels.
In our study, we demonstrated that allopurinol is able to
slow the progression of renal disease after a mean time of
23.4 ? 7.8 months. No changes in BP or in albuminuria induced
Table 3. BP control in the two groups
Control Group (n ? 56) Allopurinol Group (n ? 57)
6 months (mmHg)
12 months (mmHg)
24 months (mmHg)
146 ? 17/76 ? 13
144 ? 16/77 ? 9
141 ? 15/75 ? 8
143 ? 13/74 ? 10
147 ? 20/77 ? 11
145 ? 17/76 ? 9
142 ? 16/74 ? 9
144 ? 15/73 ? 10
Table 4. Effect of allopurinol in UA levels and renal function estimated by MDRD-4
eGFRb(ml/min per 1.73 m2)
7.3 ? 1.6
7.0 ? 1.6
7.4 ? 2.0
7.5 ? 1.7
39.5 ? 12.4
37.2 ? 14.3
35.6 ? 13.4
35.9 ? 12.3
7.8 ? 2.1
6.2 ? 1.5
6.0 ? 1.8
6.0 ? 1.2
40.8 ? 11.2
41.1 ? 12.9
41.1 ? 13.2
42.2 ? 13.2
aP ? 0.016 between groups.
bP ? 0.000 between groups.
P1, differences in comparison to baseline period within each experimental group.
P2, differences in comparison to baseline period within each experimental group.
Figure 2. Change in UA levels and change in eGFR at the end of
study. Values are expressed as mean ? SEM.
4Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 5: ●●●–●●●, 2010
by allopurinol have been observed. Although, there is a rela-
tionship between hypertension and hyperuricemia, it is not
known whether lowering UA levels with allopurinol will be
effective in people with longstanding hypertension. The only
study that showed that allopurinol treatment reduces BP was
performed in adolescent subjects with initial hypertension (12).
Allopurinol may, by diminishing serum UA levels, serve as an
agent to decrease glomerular hydrostatic pressure indirectly and
thus help alleviate renal damage. In our study, there is a signifi-
cant inverse correlation between UA levels and eGFR in the whole
data and within each experimental group. The change in UA
levels at 24 months has been plotted against the change in eGFR
(Figure 2), and we found a significant inverse correlation between
changes (r ? ?0375; P ? 0001). By the mean, the beneficial effect
of allopurinol slowing down the progression of renal disease
could be related to the decrease of UA level.
Recent studies suggest that lowering levels of UA may slow
progression of renal disease, especially in patients with hyper-
uricemia. Kanbay et al. reported that treatment of asymptom-
atic hyperuricemia improved renal function (13). Likewise, Siu
et al. reported that the treatment of asymptomatic hyeruricemia
delayed disease progression (9). The results of our study are
similar, but with more patients and a longer follow-up time.
Allopurinol Treatment and Cardiovascular Risk
The relation of UA to cardiovascular disease in the general
population is controversial, with studies showing conflicting
results. The National Health and Nutrition E´xamination Survey
(NHANES I) study demonstrated a positive correlation (14). An
analysis of the Framingham data showed no relation between
UA and cardiovascular disease after adjustment for diuretic use
(15). Subanalysis of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities
(ARIC) study has demonstrated that hyperuricemia is associ-
ated with insulin resistance and mortality in the non-CKD
population. However, the presence of CKD attenuates the as-
sociations of UA with mortality (16). A recent work in renal
transplant recipients demonstrated an association of hyperuri-
cemia with the composite outcome of cardiovascular events
and chronic allograft nephropathy (17). Larger prospective
Table 5. Allopurinol effect in inflammatory parameters
Albuminuria (mg/d) Fibrinogen (mg/dl)
2.0 ? 0.7
2.0 ? 0.8
1.9 ? 1.0
384 ? 104
373 ? 112
402 ? 98
1.9 ? 0.5
1.8 ? 0.6
1.4 ? 0.4
381 ? 78
367 ? 58
369 ? 49
aP ? 0.018 between groups and time periods (two-way ANOVA).
bP ? 0.008 between groups (two-way ANOVA).
cP ? 0.04 differences in comparison to baseline period in allopurinol group.
Data are expressed as mean ? SD or median (interquartile range). No differences were observed in hemoglobin, ESR, and
serum albumin levels between groups and periods.
Figure 3. Effect of allopurinol treatment in cardiovascular
events. Log rank: 4.25; P ? 0.039.
Table 6. Cox regression analysis. Risk of new
Previous coronary heart
C-Reactive protein (mg/L)
1.59 to 12.09
1.56 to 12.86
1.09 to 7.32
0.09 to 0.86
Model adjusted for age, eGFR change, and serum UA.
HR, hazard rates for new cardiovascular events; CI,
New cardiovascular events: Congestive heart failure,
cerebrovascular accidents, ischemic coronary events, and
Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 5: ●●●–●●●, 2010 Effect of Allopurinal in Chronic Kidney Disease5
studies are required to understand this complex interrelation in Download full-text
the general population.
Actually, there are no data about the allopurinol effect in
decreasing cardiovascular risk in the general population or in
CKD. In this study, preliminary results showed that allopurinol
treatment reduces cardiovascular events (relative risk [RR]
71%) and hospitalizations (RR 62%) compared with the usual
Although in our study, no serious adverse effects appeared,
allopurinol therapy can produce serious reactions, such as
Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and there is no evidence to treat all
patients with asymptomatic hyperuricemia with this drug.
There are several limitations to our study. First, it was not
designed in a double-blinded fashion. Second, all patients were
advised about the dietary composition, although the potential
role of dietary factors in the results has not been evaluated.
Therefore, we assume that there were no differences in the diet
between the two groups, and the possibility that a stricter diet
restricting the intake of protein and/or salt could influence
CKD progression is only probable. Finally, the results of our
study may be limited by the concomitant use of statins, anti-
platelet, and renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS)
blocker drugs. Although there were no baseline differences in
the use of these drugs between the groups, these treatments
could have been modified during the study according to good
clinical practices, and we could not delineate completely the
possible beneficial effect contributed by these drugs in the
decrease of cardiovascular risk and preservation of kidney
We conclude that allopurinol treatment decreases inflamma-
tion and slows the progression of renal disease in patients with
moderate CKD. In addition, allopurinol reduces cardiovascular
and hospitalization risk. These results have to be confirmed in
larger prospective trials and are the basis for a hypothesis that
still needs to be tested.
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6 Clinical Journal of the American Society of NephrologyClin J Am Soc Nephrol 5: ●●●–●●●, 2010