uric acid

uric acid (yŏrˈĭk) [key], white, odorless, tasteless crystalline substance formed as a result of purine degradation in man, other primates, dalmatians, birds, snakes, and lizards. The last three groups of animals also channel all amino acid degradation into the formation of glycine, aspartic acid, and glutamine, which combine to form purines and finally uric acid; these so-called uricotelic organisms thus excrete uric acid as the major end-product of the metabolism of all nitrogen-containing compounds. Uric acid is a very weak organic acid that is barely soluble in water and insoluble in alcohol and ether. The urates are its salts. Uric acid is present in human urine only in extremely small amounts but constitutes a large part of the body waste matter of birds (see guano) and of reptiles. It collects sometimes in the human kidneys or bladder in calculi, or stones, and is responsible, when present in tissues or deposited upon bones in the form of urates, for gouty conditions (see gout). It occurs also in normal human blood. The pure acid is obtained from guano and other similar substances. Upon decomposition urea is obtained. A common test for the presence of the acid in urine depends upon the formation of murexide (an ammonium salt), which is an intense reddish purple. Nitric acid is added to the urine, which is then evaporated. If uric acid is present, murexide is formed when ammonia is added to the residue.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Biochemistry


Play Hangman

Play Poptropica

Play Same Game

Try Our Math Flashcards