Inhibition of mitochondrial respiration in vivo is an early event in acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity
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- Donnelly, P.J., Walker, R.M. & Racz, W.J. Arch Toxicol (1994) 68: 110. doi:10.1007/s002040050043
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Morphological changes in mitochondria are observed early in the course of acetaminophen (AA)-induced hepatotoxicity, and mitochondrial dysfunction has been observed both in vivo and in vitro following exposure to AA. This study examined the early effects of AA exposure in vivo on mitochondrial respiration and evaluated the effectiveness ofN-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) in protecting against respiratory dysfunction. Mitochondria were isolated from the livers of fasted, male CD-1 mice 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5 or 2 h after administration of a hepatotoxic dose of AA (750 mg/kg). Glutamate- and succinate-supported mitochondrial respiration were subsequently assessed by polarographic measurement of state 3 (ADP-stimulated) and state 4 (resting) rates of oxygen consumption and determination of the corresponding respiratory control ratios (RCR: state 3/state 4) and ADP:O ratios. Hepatotoxicity was assessed histologically and by measuring plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity. The earliest sign of mitochondrial dysfunction observed in this study was a significant decrease in the ADP:O ratio for the oxidation of glutamate 1 h post-dosing. At 1.5 and 2 h post-dosing the RCRs for both glutamate- and succinate-supported respiration were significantly decreased. All of the respiratory parameters measured in this study were significantly decreased, with the exception of succinate-supported state 4 respiration which was significantly increased, 2 h after AA administration. Thus, inhibition of mitochondrial respiration preceded overt hepatic necrosis, indicated by an elevation of ALT activity, which was not observed until 3 and 4 h post-dosing. In addition, mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction correlated with morphological alterations. Inhibition of mitochondrial respiration therefore appears to be an early event in the course of AA-induced hepatotoxicity. Cotreatment with NAC (1200 mg/kg) completely prevented the AA-induced impairment of mitochondrial respiration and the development of histopathologic damage. The protection afforded by NAC in these experiments indicates thatN-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI), the reactive metabolite of AA, is responsible for the observed inhibitory effects, and suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction makes an important, if not essential, contribution to the development of AA-induced hepatotoxicity.