Acetylcysteine injection is an intravenous antidote for the treatment of acetaminophen overdose. Acetylcysteine is the nonproprietary name for the N-acetyl derivative of the naturally occurring amino acid, L-cysteine (N-acetyl-L-cysteine). The compound is a white crystalline powder, which melts in the range of 104° to 110°C and has a very slight odor.
Acetadote is an antidote for acetaminophen overdose indicated to prevent or lessen hepatic injury after ingestion of a potentially hepatotoxic quantity of acetaminophen. Overdose incidences are divided into two types; Acute Ingestion or Repeated Supratherapeutic Ingestion (RSI). [ see Dosage and Administration (2) and Acetaminophen Assays Interpretation and Methodology-(Acute or Repeated Supratherapeutic Ingestion) (1.1, 1.2) ].
On admission for suspected acute acetaminophen overdose, a serum blood sample should be drawn at least 4 hours after ingestion to determine the acetaminophen level and will serve as a basis for determining the need for treatment with acetylcysteine. If the patient presents after 4 hours post-ingestion, the serum acetaminophen sample should be determined immediately.
Acetadote should be administered within 8 hours from acetaminophen ingestion for maximal protection against hepatic injury for patients whose serum acetaminophen levels fall above the possible toxicity line on the Rumack-Matthew nomogram (line connecting 150 mcg/mL at 4 hours with 37.5 mcg/mL at 12 hours); [ see Acetaminophen Assays Interpretation and Methodology (1.1, 1.2) ]. If the time of ingestion is unknown, or the serum acetaminophen level is not available, cannot be interpreted, or is not available within the 8 hour time interval from acetaminophen ingestion, Acetadote should be administered immediately if 24 hours or less have elapsed from the reported time of ingestion of an overdose of acetaminophen, regardless of the quantity reported to have been ingested.
The aspartate aminotransferase (AST, SGOT), alanine aminotranferase (ALT, SGPT), bilirubin, prothrombin time, creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), blood glucose, and electrolytes also should be determined in order to monitor hepatic and renal function and electrolyte and fluid balance.
NOTE: The critical ingestion-treatment interval for maximal protection against severe hepatic injury is between 0 8 hours. Efficacy diminishes progressively after 8 hours and treatment initiation between 15 and 24 hours post-ingestion of acetaminophen yields limited efficacy. However, it does not appear to worsen the condition of patients and it should not be withheld, since the reported time of ingestion may not be correct.
Acetaminophen Assays Interpretation and Methodology Acute Ingestion
The acute ingestion of acetaminophen in quantities of 150 mg/kg or greater may result in hepatic toxicity. However, the reported history of the quantity of a drug ingested as an overdose is often inaccurate and is not a reliable guide to therapy of the overdose. Therefore, plasma or serum acetaminophen concentrations, determined as early as possible, but no sooner than four hours following an acute overdose, are essential in assessing the potential risk of hepatotoxicity. If an assay for acetaminophen cannot be obtained, it is necessary to assume that the overdose is potentially toxic.
Interpretation of Acetaminophen Assays
- When results of the plasma acetaminophen assay are available, refer to the nomogram in Figure 1 to determine if plasma concentration is in the potentially toxic range. Values above the line connecting 200 mcg/mL at 4 hours with 50 mcg/mL at 12 hours (probable line) are associated with a probability of hepatic toxicity if an antidote is not administered.
- If the predetoxification plasma level is above the line connecting 150 mcg/mL at 4 hours with 37.5 mcg/mL at 12 hours (possible line), continue with maintenance doses of acetylcysteine. It is better to err on the safe side and thus this line, defining possible toxicity, is plotted 25% below the line defining probable toxicity.
- If the predetoxification plasma level is below the line connecting 150 mcg/mL at 4 hours with 37.5 mcg/mL at 12 hours (possible line), there is minimal risk of hepatic toxicity, and acetylcysteine treatment may be discontinued.
Estimating Potential for Hepatotoxicity: The following depiction of the Rumack-Matthew nomogram has been developed to estimate the probability that plasma levels in relation to intervals post-ingestion will result in hepatotoxicity.
The Rumack-Matthew nomogram may underestimate the risk for hepatotoxicity in some patients with risk factors such as chronic alcoholism, malnutrition, or CYP2E1 enzyme inducing drugs (e.g., isoniazid).
Figure 1. Rumack-Matthew Nomogram
Figure 1. Michael J Hodgman, Alexander R Garrard, A Review of Acetaminophen Poisoning. Crit Care Clin. 28 (2012) 499-516.
Stephen J. Wolf, Kennon Heard, et.al, Clinical Policy: Critical Issues in the Management of Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department with Acetaminophen Overdose. Ann Emerg Med. 2007:50:292-313.
Acetaminophen Assays Interpretation and Methodology Repeated Supratherapeutic Ingestion
Repeated Supratherapeutic Ingestion (RSI) is defined as ingestion of acetaminophen at doses higher than those recommended for extended periods of time. The nomogram does not apply to patients with RSI. Treatment is based on the acetaminophen and elevated AST/ALT levels indicative of potential toxicity due to acetaminophen. For specific treatment information regarding the clinical management of repeated supratherapeutic acetaminophen overdose, please contact your regional poison center at 1-800-222-1222, or alternatively, a special health professional assistance line for acetaminophen overdose at 1-800-525-6115.
Figure 2. Acetadote Treatment Flow Chart
1Acetaminophen levels drawn less than 4 hours post-ingestion may be misleading.
2With an extended-release preparation, an acetaminophen level drawn less than 8 hours post-ingestion may be misleading. Draw a second level at 4 to 6 hours after the initial level. If either falls above the toxicity line, acetylcysteine treatment should be initiated.
3Acetylcysteine may be withheld until acetaminophen assay results are available as long as initiation of treatment is not delayed beyond 8 hours post-ingestion. If more than 8 hours post-ingestion, start acetylcysteine treatment immediately.
Published Studies Related to Acetadote (Acetylcysteine Injection)
Potentially detrimental effects of N-acetylcysteine on renal function in knee arthroplasty. [2009.07]
Ischaemia/reperfusion induces systemic inflammation and oxidative stress and thereby remote organ injury in the kidney. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 30 patients undergoing knee arthroplasty with tourniquet, this study evaluated the effect of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) infusion on renal function by measuring urine alpha-1-microglobulin, N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG), glutathione-S-transferase-alpha and -phi and serum creatinine and cystatin C concentrations up to 24 h post-operatively...
Nephrotoxic effects of iodixanol and iopromide in patients with abnormal renal function receiving N-acetylcysteine and hydration before coronary angiography and intervention: a randomized trial. [2009.01]
BACKGROUND: The use of contrast agents during coronary intervention can result in nephropathy, particularly in patients with renal dysfunction. We aimed to determine whether the use of iso-osmolar iodixanol is less nephrotoxic than that of low-osmolar iopromide when patients are adequately prehydrated and have received N-acetylcysteine... CONCLUSION: There remains a high incidence of CIN despite prehydration and routine use of N-acetylcysteine in patients with pre-existing renal dysfunction undergoing coronary interventional procedures. Although our study is underpowered, iodixanol was not associated with a statistically significant lower incidence of CIN when compared with iopromide.
Is treatment with N-acetylcysteine to prevent contrast-induced nephropathy when using bicarbonate hydration out of date? [2008.12]
AIMS: Chronic renal failure (CRF) is a major risk factor for contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) and could be prevented by bicarbonate hydration. The effect of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in preventing CIN in patients treated by bicarbonate hydration has never been investigated... CONCLUSION: In CRF patients undergoing cardiac angiography, the use of bicarbonate hydration is associated with a very low incidence of CIN. In these conditions, on the basis of our results, we cannot draw any meaningful conclusion on the effect of NAC on the prevention of CIN.
Improved estimation of glomerular filtration rate by serum cystatin C in preventing contrast induced nephropathy by N-acetylcysteine or zinc--preliminary results. [2008.04]
BACKGROUND: Prevention of contrast media (CM) induced nephropathy (CIN) by prophylaxis (e.g. N-acetylcysteine; NAC) is controversially discussed. Up to now, assessment of kidney function has been based on measurements of serum creatinine, although this biomarker has several limitations. We investigated NAC and zinc (Zn) for the prevention of CIN by monitoring creatinine and cystatin C... CONCLUSIONS: Cystatin C seems to reflect CM-induced changes in kidney function better than creatinine. NAC and Zn have no effect in preventing CIN by the standard definition, but based on cystatin C we can confirm a preventive effect of NAC. It appears mandatory to assess kidney function by cystatin C in CIN intervention trials, because relying on creatinine can be misleading.
I.v. N-acetylcysteine and emergency CT: use of serum creatinine and cystatin C as markers of radiocontrast nephrotoxicity. [2007.09]
CONCLUSION: On the basis of serum creatinine concentration only, i.v. administration of NAC appears protective against the nephrotoxicity of contrast medium. No effect is found when serum cystatin C concentration is used to assess renal function. The effect of NAC on serum creatinine level remains unclear and may not be related to a renoprotective action.
Clinical Trials Related to Acetadote (Acetylcysteine Injection)
Safety and Efficacy Study of a New Formulation of Acetylcysteine Injection [Terminated]
The primary purpose of this study is determine if a new formulation of Acetadote is at least
as effective as the current formulation in the prevention and treatment of acetaminophen
overdose related liver injury.
N-Acetylcysteine in Patients With Sickle Cell Disease [Recruiting]
The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of the drug N-Acetylcysteine on the
frequency of pain in daily life in patients with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).
Pain is an invalidating hallmark of this disease and has a considerable impact on the
Quality of Life of patients and the medical health care system. Oxidative stress is
hypothesized to play a central role in its pathophysiology. In pilot studies the
administration of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) resulted in a reduction of oxidative stress.
Moreover, administration of NAC seemed to decrease hospitalization for painful crises in a
small pilot study in patients with SCD.
This study will be performed as a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial where patients
will be treated with either NAC or placebo for a period of 6 months. The investigators
expect that NAC can reduce the frequency of pain in patients with SCD, thereby improving
their quality of life and participation in society.
N-acetylcysteine in Intra-amniotic Infection/Inflammation [Recruiting]
The aim of the study is to determine if N-acetylcysteine (a potent free radical scavenger)
prevents the occurrence of adverse neonatal outcomes in preterm deliveries complicated by
infection associated with preterm labor or preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).
The working hypothesis is that in pregnancies complicated by intra-amniotic infection or
inflammation, N-acetylcysteine protects the fetus by preventing the development, or
decreasing the intensity and/or progression of the fetal inflammatory syndrome.
N-acetylcysteine for Tobacco Smoking [Recruiting]
The purpose of this study is to investigate the efficacy of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) for
smoking cessation in a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Simultaneously,
the study aims to elucidate the role of inflammatory markers and oxidative stress related to
nicotine addiction and the use of NAC, an acetylated precursor of cysteine, a naturally
occurring amino acid that has antioxidant actions in its own right, in reducing oxidative
stress and inflammation in smokers. It will evaluate the use of NAC in smoking cessation,
after 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment.
Methylprednisolone N Acetylcysteine in Hepatic Resections [Terminated]
This is a prospective double-blind randomized phase II clinical trial, with two groups of
intervention (one with administration of N-acetylcysteine and the other with administration
of methylprednisolone), and one group of placebo. The purpose of this study is to
investigate the role of N-acetylcysteine and Methylprednisolone in the modulation of warm
ischemia of the liver during hepatic resection. In fact to avoid massive blood loss in liver
surgery, continuous or intermittent vascular clamping of the hepatic hilum ('Pringle
maneuver') is generally used with good results. However, as a consequence, ischemia and
subsequent reperfusion result in complex metabolic, immunological, and microvascular
changes, which together might contribute to hepatocellular damage and dysfunction. This
phenomenon, known as ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury of the liver, is a complex multi-path
process leading to the activation of some inflammatory pathways. Any patient candidate to
liver resection will be enrolled in the study based on the aforementioned criteria. The
primary objective of the study is to assess the real efficacy of Methylprednisolone and
N-acetylcysteine in reducing the secondary damage from ischemia reperfusion injury in liver
resection and in reducing inflammatory response. Secondary objective of the study is whether
the reduction of ischemia-reperfusion injury results in: lower incidence of postoperative
liver failure, improvement of postoperative liver function, and reduction of blood
components transfusions. The randomization will be done the day before the operation. The
drugs will be prepared in a blind fashion by the hospital pharmacy. The hospital pharmacy
will provide to each patient a drip to make bolus of about an hour before the start of the
liver resection and a syringe pump for an infusion of approximately 6 hours. If the patient
is enrolled and randomized in the placebo arm, he/she will receive 250 ml of glucose 5%
plus the infusion of 100 ml of glucose 5% If the patient is randomized in the
Methylprednisolone arm, he/she will receive a dose of 500 mg in 250 ml of glucose 5% plus
100 mg of glucose 5%. If the patient is randomized in the N-acetylcysteine arm, he/she will
receive a dose of 150 mg/kg in 250 ml of glucose 5% plus N-acetylcysteine 50 mg/kg in 100 ml
glucose 5%. Systematic sampling of liver function tests will be done the day before the
operation, at the end of the operation, as well as in postoperative day 1, 3, 5 and 7.
Reports of Suspected Acetadote (Acetylcysteine Injection) Side Effects
Infusion Related Reaction (3),
Transaminases Increased (2),
LIP Swelling (1),
Maternal Drugs Affecting Foetus (1),
Haematocrit Decreased (1),
Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (1),
Renal Failure Acute (1),
Dyspnoea (1), more >>
Page last updated: 2009-10-20