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Int J Cancer. 2004 Jan 1;108(1):158-61.

Interactions between N-acetylcysteine and sodium selenite in modulating the clastogenicity of urethane and 2-acetylaminofluorene in mice.

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National Center of Oncology, Sofia, Bulgaria.


Combined treatment with different agents represents a promising approach in cancer chemoprevention. Therefore, it is useful to assess in preclinical models the efficacy of combinations that are selected by taking into account mechanistic considerations. We designed 2 studies evaluating the interaction between N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and sodium selenite (Se), both given with the drinking water to Balb/c mice, in modulating clastogenic effects in bone marrow polychromatic erythrocytes. In a first study, a single i.p. injection of urethane considerably enhanced the frequency of micronucleated cells. While NAC produced a significant inhibition, Se further enhanced urethane clastogenicity. When given in combination at the same doses, NAC prevented the adverse effect of Se. In a second study, a single i.p. injection of 2-acetylaminofluorene enhanced the frequency of micronucleated cells. Se did not reduce this effect to a significant extent, while NAC produced a dose-dependent inhibition. When tested at the lower dose in combination with Se, the protective effect of NAC was unchanged. Especially in association with Se, NAC also prevented the toxicity of 2-acetylaminofluorene by normalizing the ratio of polychromatic to normochromatic erythrocytes. In conclusion, NAC attenuated the clastogenicity of both urethane and 2-acetylaminofluorene and the toxicity of this aromatic amine. In addition, NAC prevented the clastogenic and toxic effects resulting from the interaction of Se with urethane. Together with the findings of previous studies, it appears that, besides its intrinsic protective properties in carcinogenesis, NAC is capable of attenuating the adverse effects of several cytotoxic drugs and chemopreventive agents.

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