N-acetylcysteine: pharmacological considerations and experimental and clinical applications

Adv Pharmacol. 1997:38:205-27.


The diversity of application of the thiol drug NAC in both the experimental setting, as a tool for the study of the mechanisms and consequences of oxidative stress, and the clinical setting, as a therapeutic agent, clearly reflects the central role played by the redox chemistries of the group XVI elements, oxygen and sulfur, in biology. As our understanding of such redox processes increases, particularly their roles in specific pathophysiological processes, new avenues will open for the use of NAC in the clinical setting. As a drug, NAC represents perhaps the ideal xenobiotic, capable of directly entering endogenous biochemical processes as a result of its own metabolism. Thus, it is hoped that the experience gained with this unique agent will help in future efforts to design antioxidants and chemoprotective principles which are able to more accurately utilize endogenous biochemical processes for cell- or tissue-specific therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology*
  • Acetylcysteine / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Humans


  • Antioxidants
  • Acetylcysteine