Acetaminophen toxicity in mice lacking NADPH oxidase activity: role of peroxynitrite formation and mitochondrial oxidant stress

Free Radic Res. 2003 Dec;37(12):1289-97. doi: 10.1080/10715760310001617776.


Previous data have indicated that activated macrophages may play a role in the mediation of acetaminophen toxicity. In the present study, we examined the significance of superoxide produced by macrophages by comparing the toxicity of acetaminophen in wild-type mice to mice deficient in gp91phox, a critical subunit of NADPH oxidase that is the primary source of phagocytic superoxide. Both groups of mice were dosed with 300 mg/kg of acetaminophen or saline and sacrificed at 1, 2, 4 or 24 h. Glutathione in total liver and in mitochondria was depleted by approximately 90% at 1 h in wild-type and knock out mice. No significant differences in toxicity (serum transaminase levels or histopathology) were observed between wild-type and mice deficient in gp91phox. Mitochondrial glutathione disulfide, as a percent of total glutathione, was determined as a measure of oxidant stress produced by increased superoxide, leading to hydrogen peroxide and/or peroxynitrite. The percent mitochondrial glutathione disulfide increased to approximately 60% at 1 h and 70% at 2 h in both groups of mice. Immunohistochemical staining for nitrotyrosine was present in vascular endothelial cells at 1 h in both groups of mice. Acetaminophen protein adducts were present in hepatocytes at 1 h in both wild-type and knock out animals. These data indicate that superoxide from activated macrophages is not critical to the development of acetaminophen toxicity and provide further support for the role of mitochondrial oxidant stress in acetaminophen toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / toxicity*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Glutathione / deficiency
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • NADPH Oxidase 2
  • NADPH Oxidases / genetics
  • NADPH Oxidases / physiology*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Peroxynitrous Acid / metabolism*
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Superoxides
  • Peroxynitrous Acid
  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • Acetaminophen
  • Tyrosine
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • CYBB protein, human
  • NADPH Oxidase 2
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide