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Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Feb 1;75(3):773-80. Epub 2007 Sep 25.

Protective effect of N-acetylcysteine against radiation induced DNA damage and hepatic toxicity in rats.

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Health Radiation Research Department, National Center for Radiation Research and Technology, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.


The present study was designed to evaluate the radioprotective effect of N- acetylcysteine (NAC) on gamma-radiation induced toxicity in hepatic tissue in rat. The cellular changes were estimated using malondialdehyde (MDA, an index of lipid peroxidation), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx), reduced glutathione (GSH), and total nitrate/nitrite (NO(x)) as markers of hepatic oxidative stress in rats following gamma-irradiation. The DNA damage was determined by agarose gel electrophoresis. To achieve the ultimate goal of this study, 40 adult rats were randomly divided into 4 groups of 10 animals each. Group I was injected intraperitoneally with saline solution for 7 consecutive days and served as control group. Group II was irradiated with a single dose of 6Gy gamma-radiation. Group III was daily injected with NAC (1g/kg, i.p.) for 7 consecutive days. Group IV received a daily i.p. injection of NAC (1g/kg, i.p.) for 7 consecutive days and 1h after the last dose, rats were irradiated with a single dose (6Gy) gamma-radiation. The animals were sacrificed after 24h. DNA damage was observed in tissue after total body irradiation with a single dose of 6Gy. Malondialdehyde and total nitrate/nitrite were increased significantly whereas the levels of GSH and antioxidant enzymes were significantly decreased in gamma-irradiated group. Pretreatment with NAC showed a significant decrease in the levels of MDA, NO(x) and DNA damage. The antioxidant enzymes increased significantly along with the levels of GSH. Moreover, histopathological examination of liver tissues confirmed the biochemical data. Thus, our results show that pretreatment with N-acetylcysteine offers protection against gamma-radiation induced cellular damage.

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