Direct protection against acetaminophen hepatotoxicity by propylthiouracil. In vivo and in vitro studies in rats and mice.


Hepatotoxicity caused by acetaminophen can be prevented by enzyme-catalyzed conjugation of its reactive metabolite with glutathione (GSH). Since we have shown in previous studies that 6-N-propyl-2-thiouracil (PTU) can substitute for GSH as a substrate for the GSH S-transferases, we examined the possibility that PTU might also protect against acetaminophen hepatotoxicity by direct chemical interaction with the reactive metabolite of acetaminophen. In an in vitro system consisting of [(3)H]acetaminophen, liver microsomes from phenobarbital-pretreated rats, and an NADPH-generating system, we found that PTU had a dose-dependent additive effect with GSH on inhibition of acetaminophen covalent binding. PTU administration also resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in both GSH depletion and covalent binding in vivo in acetaminophen-treated mice. To examine the possible mechanisms by which PTU exerts its protective effect, we studied the action of PTU on both acetaminophen conjugation and metabolic activation. PTU had no effect upon acetaminophen pharmacokinetics in phenobarbital-pretreated rats, as examined by measuring acetaminophen concentration in bile, urine, and blood after an intraperitoneal dose, nor did it alter the total amount of polar conjugates formed. Microsomes from PTU-treated rats were unaltered in cytochrome P-450 concentrations and p-nitroanisole-O-demethylase, benzo-alpha-pyrene hydroxylase, and cytochrome c-reductase activities. Furthermore PTU did not decrease acetaminophen-GSH adduct formation in vitro, suggesting that there was no reduction in drug activation. However, in bile from [(35)S]PTU and [(3)H]acetaminophen treated rats, as well as in incubates of the two drugs with liver microsomes, a new (35)S- and (3)H-containing product could be identified. By both thin layer chromatography and high pressure liquid chromatography this new product, which co-eluted with [(3)H]acetaminophen, was separated from unreacted [(35)S]PTU. The formation of this product in vitro was a function of PTU concentration and reached a maximum of 0.06 mumol/min per mg protein at 0.5 mM PTU. In vivo, the total biliary excretion of this product over 4 h (116 nmol) equaled the net reduction in acetaminophen metabolite covalent binding in the liver of phenobarbital-pretreated rats (108 nmol). We conclude that PTU, independent of its antithyroid effect, diminishes hepatic macromolecular covalent binding of acetaminophen reactive metabolite both in vivo and in vitro, and it does so by detoxifying the reactive metabolite through direct chemical interaction in a manner similar to GSH. These observations may define the mechanism by which PTU is protective against liver injury caused by acetaminophen.

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@article{Yamada1981DirectPA, title={Direct protection against acetaminophen hepatotoxicity by propylthiouracil. In vivo and in vitro studies in rats and mice.}, author={Takashi Yamada and Shannon Ludwig and John Kuhlenkamp and Neil Kaplowitz}, journal={The Journal of clinical investigation}, year={1981}, volume={67 3}, pages={688-95} }