Intravenous N-acetylcysteine during hemodialysis reduces asymmetric dimethylarginine level in end-stage renal disease patients

Clin Nephrol. 2008 Jan;69(1):24-32. doi: 10.5414/cnp69024.


Aim: Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of mortality in chronic kidney disease patients. Moreover, uremic patients are in a pro-oxidant state and show an increase in asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) levels due to inhibition of the enzyme dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH). Asymmetric dimethylarginine per se seems responsible for a 52% increase in the risk of death and for a 34% increase in the risk of cardiovascular events in dialysis patients. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a thiol molecule that has direct and indirect antioxidant effects which decrease reactive oxidant species and increase the bioavailability of the DDAH enzyme. The aim of the current study was to determine the effect of intravenous NAC on plasma ADMA level when administered during hemodialysis in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients.

Materials and methods: 40 patients with ESRD were randomized to receive a 4-hour intravenous infusion of NAC or placebo during a 4-hour hemodialysis session. There were 3 diabetic patients (15%) in the treatment group and 6 patients in the control group. Plasma ADMA levels were measured before and immediately after hemodialysis. Hemodynamic parameters, including pulse pressure, were also measured. The paired t-test was used to compare the difference of ADMA levels before and after hemodialysis in each group, while the independent t-test was used to compare the difference of ADMA levels between the groups.

Results: Compared with the pre-dialysis condition, there was a decrease of ADMA level in the control group (1.1253 +/- 0.1797 microM to 0.8676 +/- 0.1449 microM) (p < 0.001), and in the NAC group (1.1522 +/- 0.1737 microM to 0.7844 +/- 0.1586 microM) (p < 0.001). Compared with hemodialysis alone, NAC had a greater lowering effect on the ADMA level (21.3 vs. 31.9%, p < 0.05).

Conclusion: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) administered intravenously during hemodialysis reduced asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) levels more significantly than hemodialysis alone.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / administration & dosage*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Arginine / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Free Radical Scavengers / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • dimethylarginine
  • Arginine
  • Acetylcysteine