Author(s): Strubelt O, Younes M
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Abstract In order to elucidate the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity, the effects of paracetamol on the oxygen consumption and ATP content of the isolated perfused rat liver were correlated with parameters of hepatic viability and hepatotoxicity. Paracetamol at 5 g/L reduced the oxygen consumption of the livers by about 80\% and hepatic ATP content by 96\%. Hepatotoxicity was evident from the nearly complete interruption of bile secretion, a marked release of enzymes [glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (GPT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)] in the perfusate, a depletion of hepatic glutathione and an accumulation of calcium in the liver. Paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity could be prevented completely by using livers from non-fasted rats as well as by addition of fructose to the perfusate of livers from fasted animals. Both treatments resulted in an increased energy supply from anaerobic glycolysis as evidenced by a large release of lactate and pyruvate into the perfusate, but did not inhibit paracetamol-induced decline of oxygen consumption. The decrease in hepatic oxygen consumption depended on the dose of paracetamol and occurred first at a concentration of 0.2 g/L (-10\%). LDH and GPT release, on the other hand, was elevated at 2 and 5 g/L and calcium accumulation occurred at 5 g/L paracetamol only. Inhibition of mixed-function oxidases by dithiocarb did not prevent the decrease in oxygen consumption and the resulting hepatic injury induced by paracetamol. The oral administration of the high dose of 5 g/kg paracetamol in vivo to rats exerted strong hepatotoxicity but produced maximal serum levels of 800 mg/L paracetamol only and did not decrease hepatic oxygen consumption as measured in vitro. Our results show that in the isolated perfused rat liver in vitro, only high concentrations of paracetamol can produce "chemical hypoxia" by attacking mitochondria so as to cause hepatic injury. Such high concentrations of paracetamol are not attained in vivo, however. "Chemical hypoxia", thus, seems not to be relevant to the well-known hepatotoxic action of paracetamol.
This article was published in Biochem Pharmacol
and referenced in Journal of Business & Financial Affairs