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J Biomed Sci. 2010 Aug 24;17 Suppl 1:S35. doi: 10.1186/1423-0127-17-S1-S35.

Comparison of the protective actions of N-acetylcysteine, hypotaurine and taurine against acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in the rat.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, St, John's University, College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, New York 11439, USA.


When used in overdoses, acetaminophen (APAP) is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in humans. At present, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is the antidote of choice for acetaminophen overdoses. Prompt administration of NAC can prevent the deleterious actions of APAP in the liver. In view of the similarities in antioxidant effects demonstrated by NAC, hypotaurine (HYTAU) and taurine (TAU) in this and other our laboratories, the present study was undertaken to compare these compounds for the ability to attenuate plasma and liver biochemical changes associated with a toxic dose of APAP. For this purpose, fasted male Sprague-Dawley rats, 225-250 g in weight, were intraperitoneally treated with APAP (800 mg/kg), NAC, HYTAU or TAU (2.4 mM/kg) followed 30 min later by APAP, or 50% PEG 400 (the vehicle for APAP). At 6 hr after APAP administration, all animals were sacrificed by decapitation and their blood and livers collected. The plasma fractions were analyzed for indices of liver damage (alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, lactate dehydrogenase), levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), reduced (GSH) and oxidized (GSSG) glutathione, and activities of glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione S-transferase (GST) and gamma-glutamylcisteinyl synthetase (GCS). Suitable liver homogenates were analyzed for the same biochemical parameters as the plasma but indices of liver damage. By itself, APAP increased MDA formation and had a significant lowering influence on the levels of GSH and GSSG, the GSH/GSSH ratio, and the activities of GR, GST and GCS both in the plasma and liver. In addition, APAP promoted the leakage of transaminases and lactate dehydrogenase from the liver into the plasma. Without exceptions, a pretreatment with a sulfur-containing compound led to a significant attenuation of the liver injury and the biochemical changes induced by APAP. Within a narrow range of potency differences, HYTAU appeared to be the most protective and TAU the least. The present results suggest that, irrespective of the differences in structural features and in vitro antioxidant properties that may exist among NAC, TAU and HYTAU, these compounds demonstrate equivalent patterns of protection and, to a certain extent, equipotent protective actions against the toxic actions of APAP in the liver when tested in equimolar doses and under the same conditions in an animal model.

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