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Pharmacology. 2003 Jun;68(2):105-14.

Urinary and plasma homocysteine and cysteine levels during prolonged oral N-acetylcysteine therapy.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Chair of Internal Medicine II, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.


Acute administration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) may induce alterations in plasma and urinary levels of homocysteine (Hcy) and cysteine (Cys). We studied the effects of continuous oral NAC therapy on different Hcy and Cys plasma and urinary forms in 40 healthy subjects assigned to three groups (groups A: n = 13, no therapy; group B: n = 14, NAC 600 mg/day, and group C: n = 14, NAC 1,800 mg/day) for 1 month (T(1)). After a 1-month washout period without therapy (T(2)), all subjects were treated with oral NAC (1,800 mg/day) for 2 months and (T(3) and T(4)) reassessed monthly for plasma and urinary thiols. The treated subjects showed a significant decrease in plasma total Hcy and a slight increase in total Cys levels; the alterations of different forms of plasma thiols suggested an NAC-induced increase in disulfide forms and an increase in urinary Hcy and Cys excretion as disulfide forms. The effects appeared to be dose dependent, being more marked in subjects treated with higher dosages. This approach may be important, as an association or alternative therapy in hyperhomocysteinemic conditions of poor responses to vitamins.

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