Background: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has been used as a classic treatment for hepatotoxicity induced by N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI) as a metabolite of acetaminophen. However, cimetidine theoretically can reduce the production of toxic metabolites through the inhibition of cytochrome p450, and it recently was proposed as a complementary treatment for acetaminophen toxicity. 

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of treating acute acetaminophen toxicity with NAC alone and with a combination of NAC and cimetidine. 

Methods: From October 2013 to March 2014, 105 patients suspected of acetaminophen toxicity who had paraclinical confirmation of toxicity requiring medical treatment (based on the risk assessment nomogram of acetaminophen serum level) were enrolled in this double-blind, randomized, controlled trial at Imam Reza Hospital in Mashhad, Iran. The patients were divided into two groups, i.e., 1) patients who were treated with NAC alone (group A) and 2) patients who were treated with a combination of NAC and cimetidine (group B). The primary outcomes were 1) the serum level of acetaminophen and 2) the serum level of aminotransferases at the time of admission and 4, 12, 24, and 48 hours after admission. Exclusion criteria included multiple toxicities, concurrent diseases that could affect liver enzymes, the use of other drugs, and dissatisfaction with the project. For measuring quantitative data, SPSS version 16 was used for t-test analysis and for analyzing the qualitative data with chi-squared analysis. 

Results: Sixty patients (32 females and 28 males) with a mean age of 25.2 ± 7.3 years were classified in two groups of 30.. There was no difference between the groups in terms of their admission information. The average levels of acetaminophen in both groups at admission, 12, 24, and 48 hours after hospitalization were not significantly different from each other. Twelve hours after hospitalization, the aspartate aminotransferase (AST) level in the group treated with NAC was significantly higher than in the group treated with the combination of NAC and cimetidine (IU/L30.1 ± 110.0 versus IU/L26.38 ± 94.93, p = 0.044). At the other times that the level of liver enzymes was assessed, the serum levels of urea and creatinine were not significantly different in the two groups (p > 0.05)

Conclusion: The intravenous administration of 300 mg of cimetidine every six hours with NAC did not improve the level of hepatoprotective action significantly compared with the NAC treatment protocol alone.

Trial registration: The trial was registered at the Iranian Clinical Trial Registry (IRCT.ir) with the IRCT identification number IRCT2013102915204N1.

Funding: This research was supported financially by the Research Council of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Grant Number: 920427).


Keywords: acetaminophen, acetylcysteine, cimetidine, toxicity
» HTML Fulltext    » PDF Fulltext    » doi: 10.14661/1310

Latest Issue:

In October-December 2018, the journal publishes several original research, including an outstanding Prospective Cohort Study, some experimental studies, and an editorial on a topic of current interest in today’s medical research. Read more:


The 6th World Conference on Research Integrity (WCRI) is to be held on June 2-5, 2019 in Hong Kong.

The WCRI is the largest and most significant international conference on research integrity. Since the first conference in Lisbon in 2007, it has given researchers, teachers, funding agencies, government officials, journal editors, senior administrators, and research students opportunities to share experiences and to discuss and promote integrity in research. Read more:


TDR Clinical Research and Development Fellowships

Call for applications

Deadline for submission: 7 March 2019, 16:00 (GMT)

TDR provides fellowships for early- to mid-career researchers and clinical trial staff (e.g. clinicians, pharmacists, medical statisticians, data managers, other health researchers) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to learn how to conduct clinical trials. Read more:

Meta-Analysis Workshops in New York, USA, and London, UK, in April and May 2019

Don't miss this exceptional opportunity to learn how to perform and report a Meta-analysis correctly. Two Meta-analysis workshops are organized in April and May 2019 by Dr. Michael Borenstein in New York, USA (April 08-10, 2019) and London, UK (May 27-29).

About the Instructor

Dr. Michael Borenstein, one of the authors of Introduction to Meta-Analysis, is widely recognized for his ability to make statistical concepts accessible to researchers as well as to statisticians. He has lectured widely on meta-analysis, including at the NIH, CDC, and FDA. Read more: