Background : N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a putative antioxidant and has gained attention as promising agent for chelating heavy metals including lead. Considering the animal studies results, we hypothesized that adding NAC to the treatment regimen may improve the success of treatment with lead chelators.
Methods : A total of 46 patients who were lead poisoned opioid addicts were divided into two groups randomly and treated with d-penicillamine (DP, 1g/day in four equal divided doses) and NAC+DP (1 g/day + 150 mg/kg/day). The efficacy of treatment was evaluated by hospitalization period. Meanwhile, the oxidative stress parameters including lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyl, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), glutathione concentration and super oxide dismutase (SOD) activity were determined at admission and discharge and compared with healthy normal controls.
Results : Hospitalization period was not different between two groups. Treatment with DP and DP+NAC significantly decreased oxidative stress in patients. At discharge day, the SOD activity and TAC were significantly higher in DP+NAC group in comparison with the DP group.
Conclusion : Although NAC recover antioxidant capacity, the advantages of NAC in improvement of DP efficacy in lead poisoning is questionable. Further studies with larger sample size and combination with other chelators are recommended.