Acetaminophen is one of the most common over-the-counter pain medications used worldwide and is considered safe at therapeutic dose. However, intentional and unintentional overdose accounts for up to 70% of acute liver failure cases in the western world. Extensive research has demonstrated that the induction of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are central to the development of acetaminophen-induced liver injury. Despite the insight gained on the mechanism of acetaminophen toxicity, there still is only one clinically approved pharmacological treatment option, N-acetylcysteine. N-acetylcysteine increases the cell's antioxidant defense and protects liver cells from further acetaminophen-induced oxidative damage. Because it primarily protects healthy liver cells rather than rescuing the already injured cells alternative treatment strategies that target the latter cell population are warranted. In this study, we investigated mitochondria as therapeutic target for the development of novel treatment strategies for acetaminophen-induced liver injury. Characterization of the mitochondrial toxicity due to acute acetaminophen overdose in vitro in human cells using detailed respirometric analysis revealed that complex I-linked (NADH-dependent) but not complex II-linked (succinate-dependent) mitochondrial respiration is inhibited by acetaminophen. Treatment with a novel cell-permeable succinate prodrug rescues acetaminophen-induced impaired mitochondrial respiration. This suggests cell-permeable succinate prodrugs as a potential alternative treatment strategy to counteract acetaminophen-induced liver injury.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Pharmacology and Toxicology