Pre-Incisional and Multiple Intradermal Injection of N-Acetylcysteine Slightly Improves Incisional Wound Healing in an Animal Model

Int J Mol Sci. 2024 May 10;25(10):5200. doi: 10.3390/ijms25105200.


The objective of this study was to investigate if delivering multiple doses of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) post-surgery in addition to pre-incisional administration significantly impacts the wound healing process in a rat model. Full-thickness skin incisions were carried out on the dorsum of 24 Sprague-Dawley rats in six locations. Fifteen minutes prior to the incision, half of the sites were treated with a control solution, with the wounds on the contralateral side treated with solutions containing 0.015%, 0.03% and 0.045% of NAC. In the case of the NAC treated group, further injections were given every 8 h for three days. On days 3, 7, 14 and 60 post-op, rats were sacrificed to gather material for the histological analysis, which included histomorphometry, collagen fiber organization analysis, immunohistochemistry and Abramov scale scoring. It was determined that scars treated with 0.015% NAC had significantly lower reepithelization than the control at day 60 post-op (p = 0.0018). Scars treated with 0.045% NAC had a significantly lower collagen fiber variance compared to 0.015% NAC at day 14 post-op (p = 0.02 and p = 0.04) and a lower mean scar width than the control at day 60 post-op (p = 0.0354 and p = 0.0224). No significant differences in the recruitment of immune cells and histological parameters were found. The results point to a limited efficacy of multiple NAC injections post-surgery in wound healing.

Keywords: N-acetylcysteine; incision; local anesthesia additive; pretreatment; rat; skin; surgical; wound healing.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine* / administration & dosage
  • Acetylcysteine* / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cicatrix / drug therapy
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Injections, Intradermal
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley*
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / injuries
  • Skin / pathology
  • Surgical Wound / drug therapy
  • Surgical Wound / pathology
  • Wound Healing* / drug effects


  • Acetylcysteine
  • Collagen