Specialized Nutrition in Critically Ill Patients

Sherry A. Brown, PharmD, BCPS


November 30, 2001

In This Article


N-acetyl-cysteine, a precursor of glutathione, is a sulfhydryl donor that has been used extensively for preventing hepatocellular damage from acetaminophen toxicity. Due to its detoxifying effects, N-acetyl-cysteine has been studied in critically ill patients.[18] Although intracellular levels of glutathione increased with the administration of N-acetyl-cysteine, there was no difference seen in the total antioxidant potential, length of inotropic support, mechanical ventilation, or length of intensive care unit stay. Some study limitations were noted, including the low dose of N-acetyl-cysteine used (much lower of a dose when compared to the dose used in patients with acetaminophen toxicity). The use of N-acetyl-cysteine cannot be recommended at this time.


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