My elderly patient developed a flare-up of her gout few days after receiving Covid-19 vaccine. Is there a connection between immunization and gout flare?

Although the connection between Covid-19 vaccination and gout flare has yet to be established, higher rates of gout/gout flare following the administration of several other vaccines (eg, influenza, tetatnus, recombinant zoster) have been reported.1  Thus, it is conceivable that Covid-19 vaccine may also be associated with gout flare as more and more people are immunized.  

A 2019 prospective study of over 500 patients with gout found that vaccination was associated with 2-fold higher odds of gout flare (aO.R. 1.99; 95% ci 1.01-3.89) during the 2 day period following immunization; no information on the type of vaccines administered was provided, however.1  Similarly,  higher risk of gout (3.6-fold) has been reported in recipients of recombinant zoster vaccine following immunization.1

An intriguing mechanism explaining the association of vaccination and gout flare is the activation of the Nlrp3 inflammasome, a multiprotein complex produced in response to diverse stimuli such as uric acid crystals and ATP released from tissue injury/necrotic cells.2 Of interest, ~25% of patients with asymptomatic hyperuricemia have been found to have evidence of monosodium urate crystals in and around their joints by advanced imaging, such that vaccination may potentially bring out more inflammatory response and gout flare.

Although aluminum adjuvants intended to increase the immunogenicity of one-half of all routine adult vaccines (eg, tetanus, diphteria, pertussis) have been shown to activate the Nlrp3 inflammasome in vitro, neither currently available mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) nor the Johnson&Johnson vaccine contains aluminum as an adjuvant. 4  

Despite the potential for gout flare following adult vaccination, it should be emphasized that the absolute risk is still low and pales compared to the overwhelming benefits of vaccination in general.1

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that, in addition to the usual uric acid lowering drugs, losartan, fenofibrate and some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as indomethacin, also lower serum uric acid levels? 5,6

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  1. Yokose C, McCormick N, Chen C, et al. Risk of gout flares after vaccination: a prospective case-crossoverstudy. Ann Rheum Dis 2019;78:1601-1604.
  2. Lyer SS, Pulskens WP, Sadler JJ, et al. Necrotic cells trigger a sterile inflammatory response throught the Nlrp3 inflammasome. PNAS 2009;106:20388-20393.
  3. Yokose C, Choi H. Response to “Clarification regarding the statement of the association between the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) and gout flares’ by Didierlaurent etal. Ann Rheum Dis Month, December 2019.
  4. Covid-19 vaccine information. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  5. Daskalopoulou SS, Tzovaras V, Mikhailidis DP, et al. Effect on serum uric acid levels of drugs prescribed for indications other than treating hyperuricaemia. Current Pharmaceutical Design 2005;11:4161-75.
  6. Tiitinen S, Nissila M, Ruutsalo HM, et al. Effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on the renal excretion of uric acid. Clin Rheumatol 1983;2:233-6.,studied%20had%20no%20significant%20influence.

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis or its affiliate healthcare centers. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

My elderly patient developed a flare-up of her gout few days after receiving Covid-19 vaccine. Is there a connection between immunization and gout flare?