N-acetyl-l-cysteine exacerbates kidney dysfunction caused by a chronic high-sodium diet in renal ischemia and reperfusion rats

Life Sci. 2019 Aug 15;231:116544. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2019.116544. Epub 2019 Jun 7.


Aims: To investigate the effect of long-term N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) treatment in Wistar rats subjected to renal ischemia and reperfusion (IR) and a chronic high‑sodium diet (HSD).

Main methods: Adult male Wistar rats received an HSD (8.0% NaCl) or a normal‑sodium diet (NSD; 1.3% NaCl) and NAC (600 mg/L) or normal drinking water starting at 8 weeks of age. At 11 weeks of age, the rats from both diet and NAC or water treatment groups underwent renal IR or Sham surgery and were followed for 10 weeks. The study consisted of six animal groups: NSD + Sham + water; NSD + IR + water; NSD + IR + NAC; HSD + Sham + water; HSD + IR + water; and HSD + IR + NAC.

Key findings: Tail blood pressure (tBP) increased with IR and NAC treatment in the NSD group but not in the HSD group. The serum creatinine level was higher after NAC treatment in both diet groups, and creatinine clearance was decreased in only the HSD + IR + NAC group. Albuminuria increased in the HSD + IR + water group and decreased in the HSD + IR + NAC group. Kidney mass was increased in the HSD + IR group and decreased with NAC treatment. Renal fibrosis was prevented with NAC treatment and cardiac fibrosis was decreased with NAC treatment in the HSD + IR group.

Significance: NAC treatment promoted structural improvements, such as decreased albuminuria and fibrosis, in the kidney and heart. However, NAC could not recover kidney function or blood pressure from the effects of IR associated with an HSD. Therefore, in general, long-term NAC treatment is not effective and is deleterious to recovery of function after kidney injury.

Keywords: High‑sodium diet; N-acetyl-l-cysteine; Rat; Renal ischemia and reperfusion.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Brain Ischemia / metabolism
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Ischemia / metabolism
  • Ischemia / pathology
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Kidney / blood supply*
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reperfusion / methods
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / adverse effects*


  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • Acetylcysteine