The association of allopurinol with persistent physical disability and frailty in a large community based older cohort

Zhen Zhou, Joanne Ryan, Mark R. Nelson, Robyn L. Woods, Suzanne G. Orchard, Chao Zhu, Julia F.M. Gilmartin-Thomas, Michelle A. Fravel, Alice J. Owen, Anne M. Murray, Sara E. Espinoza, Michael E. Ernst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The protective effects of allopurinol on physical function in older adults are not well understood, despite its potential to improve functional gains and reduce sarcopenia. This study aims to determine the association between allopurinol, persistent physical disability, and frailty in older gout patients. Methods: This analysis used data from a randomized trial in an older cohort, ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE). ASPREE recruited 19,114 participants aged ≥65 years without prior cardiovascular events, dementia, or independence-limiting physical disability at trial enrolment. This analysis examined the association of baseline and time-varying allopurinol use with persistent physical disability and new-onset frailty in participants with gout at baseline (self-report or use of any anti-gout medications). Frailty was measured using the Fried frailty phenotype (score ≥3/5) and a deficit accumulation frailty index (FI) (score >0.21/1.0). Multivariable Cox proportional-hazards models were used for main analyses. Results: This analysis included 1155 gout participants, with 630 taking allopurinol at baseline and 525 not. During a median follow-up of 5.7 years, 113 new allopurinol users were identified. Compared with nonusers, baseline allopurinol use was associated with a significant risk reduction of persistent physical disability (Adjusted HR 0.46, 95% CI 0.23–0.92, p = 0.03). The strength of the association was modestly attenuated in the time-varying analysis (Adjusted HR 0.56, 0.29–1.08, p = 0.08). No significant associations with frailty measures were observed for either baseline allopurinol use (Fried frailty: Adjusted HR 0.83, 0.62–1.12; FI: Adjusted HR 0.96, 0.74–1.24) or time-varying allopurinol use (Fried frailty: Adjusted HR 0.92, 0.69–1.24; FI: Adjusted HR 1.02, 0.78–1.33). Conclusions: Allopurinol use in older adults with gout is associated with a reduced risk of persistent physical disability but not associated with risk of frailty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2798-2809
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • allopurinol
  • frailty
  • gout
  • older population
  • physical disability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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