Distinct roles of NF-κB p50 in the regulation of acetaminophen- induced inflammatory mediator production and hepatotoxicity

Donna M. Dambach, Stephen K. Durham, Jeffrey Laskin, Debra Laskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress plays an important role in acetaminophen (APAP)-induced hepatotoxicity. In addition to inducing direct cellular damage, oxidants can activate transcription factors including NF-κB, which regulate the production of inflammatory mediators implicated in hepatotoxicity. Here, we investigated the role of APAP-induced oxidative stress and NF-κB in inflammatory mediator production. Treatment of mice with APAP (300 mg/kg, i.p.) resulted in centrilobular hepatic necrosis and increased serum aminotransferase levels. This was correlated with depletion of hepatic glutathione and CuZn superoxide dismutase (SOD). APAP administration also increased expression of the proinflammatory mediators, interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), macrophage chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and KC/gro, and the anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-10 (IL-10). Pretreatment of mice with the antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) prevented APAP-induced depletion of glutathione and CuZnSOD, as well as hepatotoxicity. NAC also abrogated APAP-induced increases in TNFα, KC/gro, and IL-10, but augmented expression of the anti-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-4 (IL-4) and transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ). No effects were observed on IL-1β or MCP-1 expression. To determine if NF-κB plays a role in regulating mediator production, we used transgenic mice with a targeted disruption of the gene for NF-κB p50. As observed with NAC pretreatment, the loss of NF-κB p50 was associated with decreased ability of APAP to upregulate TNFα, KC/gro, and IL-10 expression and increased expression of IL-4 and TGFβ. However, in contrast to NAC pretreatment, the loss of p50 had no effect on APAP-induced hepatotoxicity. These data demonstrate that APAP-induced cytokine expression in the liver is influenced by oxidative stress and that this is dependent, in part, on NF-κB. However, NF-κB p50-dependent responses do not appear to play a major role in the pathogenesis of toxicity in this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


  • Inflammation
  • Liver
  • N-acetylcysteine
  • TNFα
  • Transcription factors

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