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Heart Int. 2009 Jun 30;4(1):e7. doi: 10.4081/hi.2009.e7.

Effects of N-acetyl-cysteine on endothelial function and inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, NY;


Endothelial dysfunction has been associated with premature vascular disease. There is increasing data that N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) may prevent or improve endothelial dysfunction. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of NAC on endothelial function in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, a population at high risk for endothelial dysfunction. Twenty-four patients with diabetes mellitus were assigned randomly to initial therapy with either 900 mg NAC or placebo twice daily in a double-blind, cross-over study design. Flowmediated vasodilation (FMD) of the brachial artery was assessed at baseline, after four weeks of therapy, after a four-week wash-out period, and after another four weeks on the opposite treatment. Plasma and red blood cell glutathione levels and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured at all four visits. At baseline, FMD was moderately impaired (3.7±2.9%). There was no significant change in FMD after four weeks of NAC therapy as compared to placebo (0.1±3.6% vs. 1.2±4.2%). Similarly, there was no significant change in glutathione levels. However, median CRP decreased from 2.35 to 2.14 mg/L during NAC therapy (p=0.04), while it increased from 2.24 to 2.65 mg/L with placebo. No side effects were noted during the treatment period. In this double-blind, randomized cross-over study, four weeks of oral NAC therapy failed to improve endothelial dysfunction in patients with diabetes mellitus. However, NAC therapy decreased CRP levels, suggesting that this compound may have some efficacy in reducing systemic inflammation.


N-acetyl-cysteine.; diabetes mellitus; endothelial function; randomized trial

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