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purines Nitrogenous compounds (bases) that occur in nucleic acids (adenine and guanine) and their precursors and metabolites; inosine, caffeine, and theobromine are also purines. They are not dietary essentials; both dietary and endogenously formed purines are excreted as uric acid. See also gout.

Sweetbread (pancreas) is rich in purines, as is fish roe; there are moderate amounts in sardines and anchovies, lesser amounts in other fish and meat; little in vegetables, fruits, and cereals.