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Introduction: Acetaminophen protein adducts in the circulation are a specific biomarker of acetaminophen oxidation, and may be a more sensitive measure of impending hepatic injury following overdose than alanine transaminase (ALT). We performed an exploratory analytical substudy of adducts during a clinical trial (NACSTOP) of abbreviated (12-hour) versus control (20-hour) acetylcysteine to identify any signal of diminished antidotal effectiveness with shortened therapy. Methods: We measured adducts at 0, 12, and 20 hours from a convenience sample of subjects enrolled in the cluster-controlled NACSTOP trial evaluating a 12-hour (“abbreviated”; 200 mg/kg over 4 hours, 50 mg/kg over 8 hours) vs 20-hour acetylcysteine regimen (“control”; 200 mg/kg over 4 hours, 100 mg/kg over 16 hours). Adducts were assayed using high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Results: Median ALT 20 hours after the initiation of acetylcysteine was 12 U/L (IQR 8,14) in the abbreviated 12-hour regimen group (N = 8), compared with the control group 16 U/L (IQR 11,21; N = 21) (p = 0.46). Adduct concentrations were similarly low in both groups: abbreviated [(0.005 μmol/L, IQR (0,0.14)] and control [(0.005 μmol/L, IQR (0,0.05)] (p = 0.61). Conclusions: There were minimal to no acetaminophen protein adducts detected. These findings further support discontinuing acetylcysteine when acetaminophen concentrations are low and liver function tests normal after 12 hours of treatment.
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