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Kidney Int. 2005 Jun;67(6):2288-94.

The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine prevents accelerated atherosclerosis in uremic apolipoprotein E knockout mice.

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  • 1INSERM Unit 507, Necker Hospital, Paris, France.



Cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause of mortality in chronic renal failure (CRF). Therefore, it is important to identify appropriate treatment measures. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has been shown to reduce cardiovascular events in hemodialysis patients. Here we examine a possible direct effect of NAC supplementation on uremia-enhanced atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE(-/-)) mice.


Uremia was induced surgically in 8-week-old female apoE(-/-) mice. Two weeks after creation of CRF mice were randomized to receive either NAC (daily oral gavage with 200 mg/kg for 8 weeks) or placebo. They were compared to a control group of sham-operated apoE(-/-) mice receiving placebo. After 8 weeks of treatment, the mice were sacrificed, and the cross-section surface area of atherosclerotic plaques was measured in aortic root and descending aorta.


At 10 weeks following surgery, atherosclerotic lesions were significantly larger in uremic apoE(-/-) mice than in nonuremic controls. This accelerated atherosclerosis was associated with an increase in aortic nitrotyrosine expression and collagen plaque content. NAC treatment inhibited the progression of atherosclerotic lesions and plaque collagen content compared with placebo treatment. In addition, plaques from NAC-treated uremic animals showed a significant decrease in nitrotyrosine expression whereas the degree of macrophage infiltration was comparable in both uremic groups. There was no difference in mean arterial blood pressure between the three groups.


We show for the first time that the antioxidant NAC is capable of reducing atheroma progression, in an animal model of uremia-enhanced atherosclerosis, probably via a decrease in oxidative stress.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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