Journal of Medical Toxicology

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 2–6 | Cite as

Acetaminophen-induced nephrotoxicity: Pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and management

  • Maryann Mazer
  • Jeanmarie PerroneEmail author
Toxicology Investigations


Acetaminophen-induced liver necrosis has been studied extensively, but the extrahepatic manifestations of acetaminophen toxicity are currently not described well in the literature. Renal insufficiency occurs in approximately 1–2% of patients with acetaminophen overdose. The pathophysiology of renal toxicity in acetaminophen poisoning has been attributed to cytochrome P-450 mixed function oxidase isoenzymes present in the kidney, although other mechanisms have been elucidated, including the role of prostaglandin synthetase and N-deacetylase enzymes. Paradoxically, glutathione is considered an important element in the detoxification of acetaminophen and its metabolites; however, its conjugates have been implicated in the formation of nephrotoxic compounds. Acetaminophen-induced renal failure becomes evident after hepatotoxicity in most cases, but can be differentiated from the hepatorenal syndrome, which may complicate fulminant hepatic failure. The role of N-acetylcysteine therapy in the setting of acetaminophen-induced renal failure is unclear. This review will focus on the pathophysiology, clinical features, and management of renal insufficiency in the setting of acute acetaminophen toxicity.


acetaminophen nephrotoxicity N-acetylcysteine renal failure hepatotoxicity 


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Copyright information

© American College of Medical Toxicology 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphia

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