Objective: Aluminum phosphide is used as a fumigant. It produces phosphine gas (PH₃). PH₃ is a mitochondrial poison which inhibits cytochrome c oxidase, it leads to generation of reactive oxygen species; so one of the most important suggested mechanisms for its toxicity is induction of oxidative stress. In this regard, it could be proposed that a drug like N-acetylcysteine (NAC) as an antioxidant would improve the tolerance of aluminum phosphide-intoxicated cases. The objective of this study was to evaluate the protective effects of NAC on acute aluminum phosphide poisoning.
Methods: This was a prospective, randomized, controlled open-label trial. All patients received the same supportive treatments. NAC treatment group also received NAC. The blood thiobarbituric acid reactive substances as a marker of lipid peroxidation and total antioxidant capacity of plasma were analyzed.
Results: Mean ingested dose of aluminum phosphide in NAC treatment and control groups was 4.8 ± 0.9 g vs. 5.4 ± 3.3 g, respectively (p = 0.41). Significant increase in plasma malonyldialdehyde level in control group was observed (139 ± 28.2 vs. 149.6 ± 35.2 μmol/L, p = 0.02). NAC infusion in NAC treatment group significantly decreased malondialdehyde level (195.7 ± 67.4 vs. 174.6 ± 48.9 μmol/L, p = 0.03), duration of hospitalization (2.7 ± 1.8 days vs. 8.5 ± 8.2 days, p = 0.02), rate of intubation and ventilation (45.4% vs. 73.3%, p = 0.04). Mortality rate in NAC treatment and control groups were 36% and 60%, respectively with odds ratio 2.6 (0.7-10.1, 95% CI).
Conclusion: NAC may have a therapeutic effect in acute aluminum phosphide poisoning.