Mechanisms of acetaminophen-induced liver necrosis

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2010;(196):369-405. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-00663-0_12.

Abstract

Although considered safe at therapeutic doses, at higher doses, acetaminophen produces a centrilobular hepatic necrosis that can be fatal. Acetaminophen poisoning accounts for approximately one-half of all cases of acute liver failure in the United States and Great Britain today. The mechanism occurs by a complex sequence of events. These events include: (1) CYP metabolism to a reactive metabolite which depletes glutathione and covalently binds to proteins; (2) loss of glutathione with an increased formation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in hepatocytes undergoing necrotic changes; (3) increased oxidative stress, associated with alterations in calcium homeostasis and initiation of signal transduction responses, causing mitochondrial permeability transition; (4) mitochondrial permeability transition occurring with additional oxidative stress, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and loss of the ability of the mitochondria to synthesize ATP; and (5) loss of ATP which leads to necrosis. Associated with these essential events there appear to be a number of inflammatory mediators such as certain cytokines and chemokines that can modify the toxicity. Some have been shown to alter oxidative stress, but the relationship of these modulators to other critical mechanistic events has not been well delineated. In addition, existing data support the involvement of cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors in the initiation of regenerative processes leading to the reestablishment of hepatic structure and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects*
  • Acetaminophen / metabolism
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / adverse effects*
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / metabolism
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Circulation / drug effects
  • Liver Regeneration
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Liver / pathology
  • Necrosis
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects

Substances

  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Acetaminophen