What is acetylcysteine?Acetalcysteine is often a component of highly effective drugs in respiratory diseases for mucus solution and as an antidote for poisoning.
Acetylcysteine is a biochemical agent with two main applications. It is primarily used as a so-called expectorant (mucus remover) in many medications. Furthermore, acetylcysteine is very effective as an antidote (antidote) in paracetamol intoxication.
Other uses, such. As in kidney problems, infectious diseases and psychiatry were investigated and discussed. Resilient results are not yet available. Due to the positive effects and the low risk of serious side effects, acetylcysteine is also used in dietetic foods.
The efficacy of acetylcysteine in the treatment of such diverse ailments as mucus formation in respiratory diseases and intoxication with paracetamol is also due to different mechanisms of action.
The viscous mucus in the bronchi consists of chains of mucopolysaccharides linked by sulfur bridges. Acetylcysteine now causes the breaking up of these sulfur bridges, whereby the mucus liquefies and can be coughed off well. Another mechanism discussed is the antioxidant effect of acetylcysteine. Thus, by intercepting free radicals, the inflammatory process in the bronchi can be stopped, which enables the healing of bronchitis. However, this thesis could not yet be confirmed. Rather, the mucus solution already has a positive effect on the healing process.
The other mechanism of action of acetylcysteine, which plays a key role in the detoxification of paracetamolintoxications, is based on the antioxidant properties of NAC. Thus, acetylcysteine (NAC) exerts both direct and indirect antioxidant effects. In the direct antioxidant action of NAC, oxygenated radicals will be scavenged by the SH group. Two acetylcysteine molecules combine with each other via disulfide bridges. The anti-inflammatory effect of this process has already been discussed.
However, the indirect mechanism is the more interesting and abundant antioxidant process. The antioxidant is the glutathione formed during the degradation of NAC. Glutathione, as a short peptide, is normally stored in the liver to a sufficient degree and is the most important detoxifying agent in the organism. In the case of acute poisoning, such as. B. with paracetamol, but the supply can be exhausted due to the high demand. Paracetamol becomes a deadly threat. The administration of acetylcysteine can neutralize the toxicity of the poison.
Medical application & use
Because of its interesting spectrum of activity, acetylcysteine is used in many medicines. Thus, NAC is used as expectorant in various respiratory diseases for mucus solution. This achieves good results.
Acetylcysteine is indispensable especially for such serious diseases as cystic fibrosis. The mucus is liquefied and can easily be coughed off. More controversial, however, is the long-term treatment of bronchitis with acetylcysteine. Although the mucus is dissolved, so far no significant reduction in the inflammatory process has been recorded.
Undoubtedly, the effect of NAC as an antidote for the treatment of paracetamol intoxication. In acute poisoning, acetylcysteine is administered orally for approximately 20 hours or intravenously for 72 hours. Also for the detoxification of special chemical poisons, such. As acrylonitrile, methacrylonitrile or methyl bromide is the effect of acetylcysteine proved.
The use of acetylcysteine-containing contrast agents in X-ray examinations of kidney diseased persons at risk has shown no effectiveness. Currently, the effectiveness of acetylcysteine in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression is being tested. Results are not available yet.
An interesting area of application is also the investigation of the effectiveness of acetylcysteine for mucous solution in prostatitis.
Risks & Side Effects
There are very few known side effects with the use of acetylcysteine. However, it is contraindicated in children under 2 years of age, with known hypersensitivity, bronchial asthma and gastrointestinal bleeding.
In case of oral administration nausea and vomiting may occur in rare cases. Heartburn, headache and fever have also been reported. Very rarely, anaphylactic shock can occur with intravenous administration.
Acetylcysteine should not be used with antibiotics, but 2 hours apart, otherwise its effectiveness would be reduced.