The association between N-acetylcysteine treatment and hepatic healing in patients with non-acetaminophen-induced liver injury in pediatric intensive care: A single-center retrospective study

Arch Pediatr. 2022 Feb;29(2):140-144. doi: 10.1016/j.arcped.2021.11.006. Epub 2022 Jan 14.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the association between the use of intravenous N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and hepatic healing in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) patients with non-acetaminophen-induced hepatic injury, except for acute liver failure.

Methods: The data of patients who received intravenous NAC as adjuvant therapy for transaminase levels more than sixfold normal values during their PICU stay between 2010 and 2014 were retrospectively collected from the medical records database. The patients who did not receive NAC with elevated transaminase levels during their PICU stay between 2014 and 2018 were also collected as the standard of care (SOC) cohort.

Results: More than 50% of the liver injuries were secondary to acute hypoxia, hypotension, sepsis, and inflammation. The median number of elevated transaminase period (ETP) days of the NAC and SOC groups were 5 (IQR: 4) and 4 (IQR: 4), respectively (p = 0.17). There was no significant difference between the groups in terms of minimum and maximum laboratory values during ETP. There was no significant difference in terms of ETP and maximum ALT levels between the NAC and SOC groups in the hypoxia-hypotension subgroup.

Conclusion: This study did not show an association between indirect measures of hepatic healing and post-insult use of NAC in pediatric liver injury in the PICU setting.

Keywords: Acetaminophen; Acute liver failure; Hepatic injury; N-acetylcysteine; Pediatric intensive care; Transaminase.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen
  • Acetylcysteine / therapeutic use*
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury* / etiology
  • Child
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / etiology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transaminases / blood
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen
  • Transaminases
  • Acetylcysteine