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N-Acetylcysteine, commonly referred to as NAC, is the N-acetylated form of the amino acid cysteine. When ingested, it is rapidly deacetylated during first-pass metabolism to the essential amino acid cysteine and then stored by the liver, which uses and releases it as needed. It is also stored, utilized, and/or released into the bloodstream as glutathione (GSH), a cysteine-containing tripeptide that serves as a detoxifying agent, a coenzyme for multiple enzymes, and a key component of the electron transport system.

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  1. 1.

    Pronounced either as the homophone for the word “knack” or spelled out as the letters “N-A-C”

  2. 2.

    Disclaimer: In accord with our university policy, we have cooperated with BioAdvantex in the development of several patents for NAC use in HIV and other diseases and have worked on clinical trials with both Zambon and BioAdvantex. Some of these patents have been issued; none have as yet secured FDA approval for clinical (or other) uses. Other groups conducting studies discussed in this volume have worked, I believe, with other NAC sources

  3. 3.

    In accord with our university policy, we have been joined by this company (BioAdvantex) in the development of several patents for NAC use in HIV and other diseases. However, neither we nor BioAdvantex have secured FDA approval for any clinical (or other) uses.


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Correspondence to Leonore A. Herzenberg .

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Herzenberg, L.A. (2019). History of N-Acetylcysteine. In: Frye, R., Berk, M. (eds) The Therapeutic Use of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) in Medicine. Adis, Singapore.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-981-10-5310-8

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