Effect of repeated administration with subtoxic doses of acetaminophen to rats on enterohepatic recirculation of a subsequent toxic dose

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Graphical abstractDevelopment of resistance to toxic effects of acetaminophen (APAP) was reported in rodents and humans, though the mechanism is only partially understood. We examined in rats the effect of administration with subtoxic daily doses (0.2, 0.3, and 0.6 g/kg, i.p.) of APAP on enterohepatic recirculation and liver toxicity of a subsequent i.p. toxic dose of 1 g/kg, given 24 h after APAP pre-treatment. APAP and its major metabolite APAP-glucuronide (APAP-Glu) were determined in bile, urine, serum and liver homogenate. APAP pre-treatment was not toxic, as determined by serum markers of liver damage and neither induced oxidative stress as demonstrated by assessment of ROS generation in liver or glutathione species in liver and bile. APAP pre-treatment induced a partial shift from biliary to urinary elimination of APAP-Glu after administration with the toxic dose, and decreased hepatic content and increased serum content of this conjugate, consistent with a marked up-regulation of its basolateral transporter Mrp3 relative to apical Mrp2. Preferential secretion of APAP-glu into blood decreased enterohepatic recirculation of APAP, thus attenuating liver exposition to the intact drug, as demonstrated 6 h after administration with the toxic dose. The beneficial effect of interfering the enterohepatic recirculation was alternatively tested in animals receiving activated charcoal by gavage to adsorb APAP of biliary origin. The data indicated decreased liver APAP content and glutathione consumption. We conclude that selective up-regulation of Mrp3 expression by APAP pre-treatment may contribute to development of resistance to APAP hepatotoxicity, at least in part by decreasing its enterohepatic recirculation.

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