The widely used analgesic-antipyretic drug acetaminophen (APAP) is known to cause serious liver necrosis at high doses in man and experimental animals. For studies of toxic processes, 1H NMR spectroscopy of biofluids allows monitoring of endogenous metabolite profiles that alter characteristically in response to changes in physiological status. Herein, a 1H NMR metabolomics approach was applied to the investigation of APAP toxicity in rats and the effect of phenobarbital (PB) on APAP induced hepatotoxicity. Metabolite differences due to hepatotoxicity were observed in 1H NMR spectra of serum and urine, and enhanced APAP hepatotoxicity by pretreatment with PB was clearly shown by a principal components analysis of the spectral data. NMR spectra of APAP dosed rat urine provided profiles of APAP-related compounds together with endogenous metabolites. By comparison of endogenous and APAP-related metabolite spectra with those from rats pretreated with PB, it was possible to show the importance of oxidative metabolism of APAP to N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone, an essential component of APAP hepatotoxicity.
The article is published online in the journal Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics and is free to access.