In the liver, acetaminophen is converted into a new compound that covalently binds to proteins at an amino acid called cysteine. These covalent binding events are known to contribute to the toxicity of acetaminophen.

The compound is known to impair the activity of mitochondria, the cell`s energy supplier, but does not bind directly to some of the enzymes in mitochondria whose activity it affects. Researchers at the National University of Singapore have found a new way that how the breakdown product affects proteins in the liver. They examined glutathionylation, a post-translational modification made to cysteine residues, in response to acetaminophen toxicity and reported a new proteomic approach to isolate and identify glutathionylated proteins and applied it in cells treated with acetaminophen.

Researchers also found that an acetaminophen breakdown product can cause glutathionylation, suggesting a new mechanism for the damage the drug causes. Usually, glutathione is added to cysteine residues to protect them from damage by oxygen under stressful conditions. The modification affects proteins involved in mitochondrial fuel uptake and energy production, leading to metabolic dysfunction and other effects linked to acetaminophen toxicity. This research helps explain the drug`s toxicity at high doses, especially among enzymes that are impaired by acetaminophen treatment without binding directly to the drug or its metabolites. The findings appeared in the Journal of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.

FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DR GOVIND SHUKLA, NUTRITION EXPERT

Govind Shukla, Specializes in Pharmacology, Toxicology, Nutraceuticals & Herbal Drugs has published More than 100 research papers in National & International Journals. He is also a reviewer of International Journal of Pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, Chief editor of IJPNR Journal & Freelance Medical Writer for Different publication Groups including Lambert Academic Publishing Saarbrucken, Germany.

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