Friday 04 December 2009, 00:25

New therapeutic potential for acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is a potential drug for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders

New therapeutic potential for acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, paracetamol) is an analgesic-antipyretic drug. Unlike NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), acetaminophen has no or very weak anti-inflammatory properties and is void of gastrointestinal toxicity. This last property has led to the widespread use of acetaminophen as an alternative to NSAIDs for the symptomatic treatment of pain and fever.


However recent studies have revealed that acetaminophen has also anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on neurons. This finding suggests a new therapeutic potential for acetaminophen in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis), where both inflammation and oxidative stress are thought to play a significant role. 


The research study conducted by Debjani Tripathy and Paula Grammas (Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center) has shown that acetaminophen at very low dose protects neurons exposed to oxidative stress. Although it has been observed that acetaminophen is capable of both reducing superoxide production and scavenging peroxy radicals, the exact molecular mechanism is still poorly understood.


Although traditionally acetaminophen has not been classified as a NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), because of its weak anti-inflammatory properties, the researchers have also demonstrated that it is capable of both inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis in neuronal cultures and reducing release of inflammatory proteins from neurons.


Collectively these data show that acetaminophen has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects on neurons and might therefore represent an effective therapeutic option for the treatment of CNS diseases characterized by both oxidant and inflammatory events.


By Chiara De Carli

Category: Pharmacy

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