Background: Increased levels of reactive oxygen species during and after surgery may affect inflammatory response, post-operative adhesion molecule formation, and hemodynamic stability. The glutathione redox cycle is an important regulator in oxidative stress and its reduced forms scavenge free radicals. N-acetyl cysteine, a precursor of reduced glutathione, is considered as a potentially therapeutic wide spectrum agent in clinical practice. We therefore examined whether N-acetyl cysteine improves some biochemical parameters in cancer patients undergoing major abdominal surgery.
Methods: Thirty-three patients diagnosed with pancreas, stomach, rectum, colon malignancies, and undergoing major abdominal surgery at Ankara Numune Training and Research Hospital were randomly divided into two groups; control (CON) and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). The NAC group had 1,200 mg N-acetyl cysteine starting two days before the operation day, in addition to isonitrogenous and isocaloric total parenteral nutrition of 1.2 g/kg protein, 25 kcal/kg, and 60:40 carbohydrate/fat ratio. Blood and urine samples were drawn two days before the operation, on operation day, and on the first, third, and fifth days post-operation.
Results: Plasma malondialdehyde was significantly lower in the NAC group (P < 0.001). N-acetyl cysteine treatment did not affect plasma levels of vitamin A, C or E. The NAC group exhibited a higher ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidised glutathione (P = 0.019). Urinary nitrate level was also significantly lower in the NAC group (P = 0.016).
Conclusion: The study demonstrated the clinical importance of N-acetyl cysteine supplementation on antioxidant parameters in abdominal surgery patients. In these patients N-acetyl cysteine and vitamin administration can be considered as an effective method for improvement of oxidative status.