N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) and neurodegenerative diseases?

Tempo de Leitura: 2 minutos

N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is an acetylated compound of cysteine, has aroused interest for decades due to its important clinical applications. NAC is a precursor of glutathione and has antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory activities. In addition, it may be considered useful in therapies to combat neurodegenerative and mental health diseases.

NAC in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) represents a neurodegenerative disease, and its onset is related to the degeneration of the cells involved in dopamine production. The first recognized sign of cellular degeneration is glutathione reduction (GSH). An increase in the formation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species seems to be related to the reduction of GSH. Therefore, this condition leads to inhibition of Complex I with the following mitochondrial alteration that results in the reduction of GSH causing dopaminergic cell death.

NAC in neurodegenerative diseases such as PArkinson Disease may play an important role in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease by providing cysteine to the brain in which it plays an action as a precursor to gsh production and in stimulating cytosolic enzymes involved in GSH regeneration.

NAC in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) represents a destructive neurodegenerative disease correlated with age and currently there is no definitive treatment. Therapeutic approaches to the pathological characteristics of AD are focused on the idea that increasing some proteins such as the β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) produces neuronal damage and death. In addition, it was also observed that reactive species may contribute to the onset and progression of AD by determining cellular oxidative damage.

NAC in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s promotes both inhibition of NF-κB and the inducible nitric oxide synthase enzyme (iNOS) with consequent decrease in nitric oxide production and inflammatory cytokines. Thus, a protective effect to neutralize the neuroinflammatory element of this pathology can be offered by increasing the concentration of GSH through NAC in glial cells and astrocytes.

Clinical practice

NAC represents a compound known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, thanks to its activities, it can be considered as an adjunct therapy that can be used in combination with conventional therapies in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, neuropathic pain and stroke.


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Article: NAC and neurodegenerative

diseases Tardiolo G, Bramanti P, Mazzon E. Overview on the Effects of N-Acetylcysteine in Neurodegenerative Diseases.


. 2018;23(12):3305. Published 2018 Dec 13. doi:10.3390/molecules23123305

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