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Kidney Blood Press Res. 2004;27(3):161-6. Epub 2004 Jul 13.

N-acetylcysteine in the prevention of radiocontrast-induced nephropathy: clinical trials and end points.

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin II, Klinikum der Universität Regensburg, Deutschland.


N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has been suggested to prevent radiocontrast-induced nephropathy (RCIN) in patients with a reduced renal function. However, clinical studies have not been demonstrating this effect consistently. Also, reviews and meta-analyses dealing with the question of prevention of RCIN by NAC have been controversial. Nearly all investigators used serum creatinine as surrogate end point of their trials, and changes in serum creatinine concentrations are thought to reflect the extent of renal injury as primary outcome. In a recent study, an effect of NAC on creatinine values and estimated glomerular filtration rate without any effect on cystatin C levels has been shown in volunteers with a normal renal function. Therefore, before renal protective effects of NAC in RCIN are proposed, any direct effects of NAC on creatinine, urea, and estimated glomerular filtration rate should be addressed. In future trials, the glomerular filtration rate should preferentially be measured directly, or at least additional markers of the renal function (e.g., serum cystatin C) have to be assessed. Furthermore, additional 'hard' end points, i.e., hospital morbidity, mortality, or dialysis dependency, should be considered in the design of future studies of RCIN.

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