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Hum Exp Toxicol. 2000 May;19(5):277-83.

Repeated acetaminophen dosing in rats: adaptation of hepatic antioxidant system.

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Department of Safety Assessment, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Welwyn, Herts AL6 9AR, UK.


Repeated dosing of acetaminophen (paracetamol) to rats is reported to decrease their sensitivity to its hepatotoxic effects, which are associated with oxidative stress and glutathione depletion. We determined if repeated acetaminophen dosing produced adaptive response of key antioxidant system enzymes. Male rats (Sprague-Dawley, 10 weeks) were given 800, 1200, or 1600 mg/kg/day acetaminophen by oral gavage for 4 days. Liver was assayed for oxidative stress and antioxidant markers: malondialdehyde (MDA), thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS), total antioxidant status (TAS), glutathione (GSH), glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), catalase (CAT), and superoxide dismutase (SOD), and alanine transaminase (ALT) as a marker of hepatocellular injury. Acetaminophen at 1200/1600 mg/kg decreased GSH 26/47%, GPx 21/26%, CAT 35/28%, SOD 21/12%; and TAS 28/18% (correlated with CAT, r=0.91; SOD, r=0.66; GPx, r=0.45). Despite antioxidant deficiencies, and no TBARS change, MDA decreased 26%/33%/37% at 800/1200/1600 mg/kg, which correlated with increased GR (61%/62%/76%, r=0.77) and G6PD (130%/110%/190%, r=0.78). Both MDA (r=0.68) and G6PD (r=0.71) correlated with hepatic ALT, which decreased 27%/43%/48%, respectively. Resistance to acetaminophen hepatotoxicity produced by repeated exposure is partially attributable to upregulation of hepatic G6PD and GR activity as an adaptive and protective response to oxidative stress and glutathione depletion.

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