Research Publications

Research Publications

Full list of publications (700+) at GOOGLE SCHOLAR  under Richard J Johnson  (Google Scholar).


SEMINAL PUBLICATIONS (with impact/annotations


  1. Mazzali M, Hughes J, Kim YG, Jefferson JA, Kang D-H, Gordon KL, Lan HY, Kivlighn S, Johnson RJ: Elevated uric acid increases blood pressure in the rat by a novel crystal-independent mechanism. Hypertension 2001 Nov;38(5):1101-1106
    Impact: This paper caused shocks as it showed that uric acid might have a role in the cause of high blood pressure. It led to hundreds of studies evaluating the role of uric acid in conditions besides gout.

  2. Nakagawa T, Tuttle KR, Short RA, Johnson RJ. Fructose-induced hyperuricemia as a causal mechanism for the epidemic of the metabolic syndrome. Nature Clinical Practice Nephrology. 2006; 1:80-86
    Impact: This paper was the first to suggest that sugar and fructose, might cause its metabolic effects through its ability to make uric acid.

  3. Nakagawa T, Hu H, Zharikov S, Tuttle KR, Short RA, Glushakova O, Ouyang X, Feig DI, Block ER, Herrera-Acosta J, Johnson RJ. A causal role for uric acid in fructose-induced metabolic syndrome.  Am J Physiol Renal Physiol Epub Oct 18, 2005; 2006 Mar;290(3):F625-31
    Impact: This paper caused shocks as it provided the first hard evidence that fructose caused obesity not from its calories, but from its ability to make uric acid.

  4. Johnson RJ, Segal M, Sautin Y, Nakagawa T, Feig DI, Kang DH, Gersch MS, Benner S, and Sanchez-Lozada LG. Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):899-906
    : One of the first scientific papers proposing sugar as the primary cause of metabolic syndrome due to its fructose content.

  5. Feig DI, Kang DH, Johnson RJ. Uric acid and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med 2008; 359:1811-21. PMCID: PMC2684330
    Impact: A summary of the evidence in 2008 that uric acid might actually be a cause of cardiovascular disease.

  6. Feig DI, Soletsky B, Johnson RJ. Effect of Allopurinol on the Blood Pressure of Adolescents with Newly Diagnosed Essential Hypertension. JAMA 2008;300(8):922-30. PMCID: PMC2684336
    Impact: First paper to show unequivocal evidence that uric acid has a role in high blood pressure in humans.

  7. Lanaspa MA, Sanchez-Lozada LG, Choi YJ, Cicerchi C, Kanbay M, Roncal-Jimenenz CA, Li N, Marek G, Duranay M, Schreiner G, Rodriguez-Iturbe B, Nakagawa T, Kang DH, Sautin YY, Johnson RJ. Uric acid induces hepatic steatosis by generation of mitochondrial oxidative stress: potential role in fructose-dependent and -independent fatty liver J Biol Chem 2012; 287 (48):40732-44
    Impact: Key scientific paper showing that fructose causes obesity and fatty liver through the effects of uric acid on the energy producing factories (mitochondria) in the cell.

  8. Lanaspa MA, Ishimoto T, Li N, Cicerchi C, Orlicky D, Ruzicky P, Rivard C, Inaba S, Roncal-Jimenez CA, Diggle CP, Asipu A, Petrash M, Kosugi T, Maruyama S, Sanchez-Lozada LG, Bonthron DT, Sautin YY, Johnson RJ. Endogenous fructose production and metabolism in the liver contributes to the development of metabolic syndrome. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2434.
    Impact: The first demonstration that the fructose that is produced in the body can also cause obesity.  Here we show it can come from high glycemic carbs like rice and potatoes.
  1. Kratzer J, Lanaspa MA, Murphy MN, Cicerchi C, Graves CL, Tipton PA,  Ortlund EA, Johnson RJ, Gaucher E. Evolutionary history and metabolic insights of ancient mammalian uricases. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(10):3763-8.


  1. Johnson RJ, Andrews P. The fat gene: A genetic mutation in prehistoric apes may underlie today’s pandemic of obesity and diabetes. Scientific American. 2015;313(4):64-9.
    Impact: These papers showed that the reason we are so sensitive to sugar is due to a mutation that occurred 15 million years ago.
  1. Glaser J, Lemery J Rajagapolan B, Diaz HF, Garcia-Trabanino R, Taduri G, Madero M, Amarasinghe M, Abraham G, Anutrakulchai S, Jha V, Stenvinkel P, Roncal-Jimenez C, Lanaspa MA, Correa-Rotter R, Sheikh-Hamad D, Burdmann EA, Andres Hernando A, Milagres T, Weiss I, Kanbay M, Wesseling C,  Sanchez-Lozada LG, Johnson RJ. Climate Change and the Emergent Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease from Heat Stress in Rural Communities: The Case for Heat Stress Nephropathy. CJASN 2016 Aug 8;11(8):1472-83
    Impact: This paper presented evidence that climate change may be responsible for an epidemic of kidney disease that is killing more than 100,00 people in various places in the world.

  2. Johnson RJ, Sánchez-Lozada LG, Andrews P, Lanaspa MA.Perspective: A Historical and Scientific Perspective of Sugar and Its Relation with Obesity and Diabetes. Adv Nutr. 2017 May 15;8(3):412-422.
    Impact: An historical overview of the rise of sugar intake and its impact on humans. Given as a lecture in the Presidential Symposium of the American Physiological Society.

  3. Johnson RJ. Pro: Heat stress as a potential etiology of Mesoamerican and Sri Lankan nephropathy: a late night consult with Sherlock Holmes Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2017 Apr 1;32(4):598-602
    Impact: A debate on the cause of the mysterious epidemic of chronic kidney disease in which Dr Johnson called on a detective by the name of Sherlock Holmes for help!

  4. Lanaspa MA. Kuwabara M, Andres-Hernando A, Li N,  Cicerchi C, Jensen J, Orlicky DJ, Roncal-Jimenez C, Ishimoto T, Nakagawa T, Rodriguez-Iturbe B, MacLean PS, Johnson RJ. High Salt Intake Causes Leptin Resistance and Obesity in Mice by Stimulating Endogenous Fructose Production and Metabolism Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2018 Mar 20;115(12):3138-3143
    Impact: The discovery that salt, which has no calories, can have marked effects to increase weight through its ability to make fructose in the body.
  5. Johnson RJ, Wesseling C, Newman L. Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Cause in Agricultural Communities. N Engl J Med 2019;380:1843-52.
    Impact: A summary of the work on chronic kidney disease that was published in the New England Journal.

  6. Johnson RJ, Stenvinkel P, Andrews P, Sánchez-Lozada LG, Nakagawa T, Gaucher E, Andres-Hernando A, Rodriguez-Iturbe B, Roncal Jimenez C, Garcia G, Kang DH, Tolan DR, Lanaspa MA.Fructose Metabolism as a Common Evolutionary Pathway of Survival associated with climate change, food shortage and droughts. J Int Med 2020 Mar;287(3):252-262
    Impact: A paper presented at a Nobel symposium in Sweden in which the ability of fructose to cause metabolic syndrome is summarized.  Of interest, fructose was originally used as way to help animals survive food shortage—today we are eating so much fructose that it is driving most of our current diseases.

  7. Nakagawa T, Lanaspa MA, Millan IS, Fini M, Rivard CJ, Sanchez-Lozada LG, Andres-Hernando A, Tolan DR, Johnson RJ. Fructose contributes to the Warburg effect for cancer growth. Cancer Metab. 2020;8:16.
    Impact: Reviewing the evidence that sugar is driving cancer growth and metastases.

  8. Johnson RJ, Gomez-Pinilla F, Nagel M, Nakagawa T, Rodriguez-Iturbe B, Sanche-Lozada LG, Tolan DR, Lanaspa MA. Cerebral Fructose Metabolism as a Potential Mechanism Driving Alzheimer’s Disease. Frontiers Aging Neuroscience. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020;12:560865.
    Impact: Reviewing the evidence that fructose is driving Alzheimer’s disease.
  9. Andres-Hernando A, Jensen TJ, Kuwabara M, Orlicky D, Cicerchi C, Li N, Roncal-Jimenez CA, Ishimoto T, Maclean PS, Bjornstad P, Kanbay M, Sanchez-Lozada LG, Nakagawa T, Johnson RJ, Lanaspa MA. Vasopressin mediates Fructose-induced Metabolic Syndrome by activating the V1b Receptor. JCI Insight. 2021;6(1).
    Impact: Exciting studies identifying the hormone vasopressin as causing obesity and the ability of water to reverse it.

  10. Johnson RJ, Wilson WL, Bland ST, Lanaspa MA. Fructose and Uric Acid as Drivers of a Hyperactive Foraging Response: A Clue to Behavioral Disorders Associated with Impulsivity or Mania? Evolution and Human Behavior 2021; 42(3): 194-203.
    Impact: A paper that shows fructose is likely driving various behaviors, including attention deficit, hyperactivity and mania, aggression and depression.
  1. Johnson RJ, Lanaspa MA, Fox JW. Upper Paleolithic Figurines Showing Women with Obesity may Represent Survival Symbols of Climatic Change. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2021;29(1):11-5.
    Impact: A study showing how early Ice Age Europeans wanted the women to be obese as a means for assuring successful pregnancies during a time of climate change and cooling temperatures.

  2. Andres-Hernando A, Kuwabara M, Orlicky DJ, Vandenbeuch A, Cicerchi C, Kinnamon SC, et al. Sugar causes obesity and metabolic syndrome in mice independently of sweet taste. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2020;319(2):E276-E90.
    Impact:  Sugar causes obesity even in animals that cannot taste sugar.
  1. Andres-Hernando A, Cicerchi C, Kuwabara M, Orlicky DJ, Sanchez Lozada LG, Nakagawa T, et al. Umami-Induced Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome is Mediated by Nucleotide Degradation and Uric acid Generation. Nature Metabolism. 2021;in press.
    Impact: The demonstration that umami foods increase the risk for obesity through the uric acid pathway.
  1. Andres-Hernando A, Garcia GE, Orlicky DJ, Loetz EC, Kumar V, Effinger D, et al. Alcohol Preference and Liver Disease are Dependent on Sugar (Fructose) Metabolism. 2021;submitted.
    Impact:  Alcohol generates fructose in the liver that is partially responsible for how alcohol causes ddiction and liver disease.