Therapeutic effect of N-acetylcysteine on chemotherapy-induced liver injury

Ir J Med Sci. 2020 Nov;189(4):1189-1194. doi: 10.1007/s11845-020-02219-1. Epub 2020 Apr 1.


Background: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) may be useful in the management of chemotherapy-induced liver injury.

Aims: The present study evaluates the possible therapeutic effects of NAC on chemotherapy-induced hepatotoxicity.

Methods: A total of 102 patients' files who were diagnosed with cancer between 2015 and 2019 were evaluated retrospectively. Two patient groups with and without NAC were selected. NAC was administered in a 3-μg/kg IV dose in a 24-h infusion to 70 patients when any alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) values reached three times the normal levels. The other group consisted of 32 patients who were not treated with NAC. Alanine aminotransferase and GGT values were recorded at pretreatment, and on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th days in both the NAC and non-NAC groups from files.

Results: In the NAC group, ALT and GGT values on day 1, 3, 5, and 7 differed from each other, decreasing from day 1 to day 7. A statistically significant difference was noted between the values in the NAC group (p < 0.001). In the non-NAC group, the ALT values on day 7 were lower than the ALT values on day 1. A comparison of the ALT and GGT values in the NAC and non-NAC groups found that the values in the NAC group decreased earlier than in the non-NAC group.

Conclusions: This study shows that NAC has a therapeutic effect on hepatotoxicity in children being treated with chemotherapeutic agents due to underlying malign diseases. The early reduction in the results of liver function tests is important for the continuation of chemotherapy.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; Liver Injury; N-acetylcysteine.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology
  • Acetylcysteine / therapeutic use*
  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / injuries*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Acetylcysteine