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Toxicol Lett. 2011 Feb 25;201(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2010.11.013. Epub 2010 Dec 9.

Comparative evaluation of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) on glutamate and lead-induced toxicity in CD-1 mice.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla, MO 65409, USA.


Recent studies indicate that there is interaction between the glutamatergic neurotransmitters system and lead neurotoxicity. Previously, we have demonstrated the potential effects of glutamate in lead-induced cell death in PC12 cells and the protective role of the novel thiol antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA). The current study (1) investigated the potential effects of glutamate on lead exposed CD-1 mice, (2) evaluated the protective effects of NACA against glutamate and lead toxicity in CD-1 mice, and (3) compared the results with N-aceytylcysteine (a well-known thiol antioxidant). Oxidative stress parameters, including glutathione (GSH), oxidized glutathione (GSSG), GSH/GSSG, and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, were evaluated. Blood and tissue lead levels, glutamate/glutamine (Glu/Gln) ratios, GS activity, and phospholipase-A(2) (PLA(2)) were also analyzed. Results indicated that lead and glutamate decreased GSH levels in the red blood cells, brains, livers, and kidneys. Exposure to glutamate and lead elevated the MDA levels and PLA(2) activity. NACA and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) provided protection against the detrimental effects of lead by decreasing the blood and tissue lead levels, restoring intracellular GSH levels, and decreasing the MDA levels. NACA and NAC also increased the GS activity thereby decreasing Glu/Gln levels. However, NACA appeared to have better chelating and antioxidant properties than NAC, due to its higher liphophilicity and its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

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