Assessment of hepatic function, oxidant/antioxidant status, and histopathological changes in rats treated with atorvastatin: Effect of dose and acute intoxication with acetaminophen

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2015 Aug;34(8):828-37. doi: 10.1177/0960327114559991. Epub 2014 Nov 25.


A major disadvantage that may occur in association with atorvastatin (ATV) therapy is elevation of serum transaminases. This study was designed to evaluate the effects of treatment of rats with various doses of ATV (2, 5, and 10 mg/kg/day) on liver function, oxidative stress, and histology and on the severity of acetaminophen (APAP) hepatotoxicity. ATV administration for 21 days resulted in a dose-dependent significant rise in serum activities of alkaline phosphatase, aspartate aminotransferase, and alanine aminotransferase. Only ATV at 10 mg/kg/day decreased reduced glutathione (GSH) levels and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, increased malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, and elicited histopathological changes in the liver. In rats challenged with APAP (500 mg/kg), the livers showed centrilobular necrosis with evident oxidative stress and liver dysfunction after 24 h. Rats challenged with APAP after pretreatment with ATV 2 or 5 mg/kg/day showed significantly lower activities of serum enzymes, higher hepatic GSH levels and SOD activities, lower MDA levels and milder histopathological changes compared with rats challenged with APAP after pretreatment with ATV 10 mg/kg/day or without drug pretreatment. In conclusion, the effect of ATV on the liver is dose dependent. Our results showed that ATV, at the highest dose used, induced hepatic lipid peroxidation and injury, suggesting a role for oxidative stress in ATV-induced hepatotoxicity. However, lower doses of ATV attenuated APAP-induced hepatotoxicity via a mechanism related, at least in part, to a reduction of APAP-induced hepatic oxidative stress. These results are of practical interest as both drugs may be used concurrently in clinical practice.

Keywords: Atorvastatin; acetaminophen; hepatoprotection; hepatotoxicity; liver function; oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Atorvastatin / pharmacology*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • Rats


  • Antioxidants
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Oxidants
  • Acetaminophen
  • Atorvastatin