Mitochondrial protein adducts formation and mitochondrial dysfunction duringN-acetyl-m-aminophenol (AMAP)-induced hepatotoxicity in primary human hepatocytes

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3′-Hydroxyacetanilide or N-acetyl-meta-aminophenol (AMAP) is generally regarded as a non-hepatotoxic analog of acetaminophen (APAP). Previous studies demonstrated the absence of toxicity after AMAP in mice, hamsters, primary mouse hepatocytes and several cell lines. In contrast, experiments with liver slices suggested that it may be toxic to human hepatocytes; however, the mechanism of toxicity is unclear. To explore this, we treated primary human hepatocytes (PHH) with AMAP or APAP for up to 48 h and measured several parameters to assess metabolism and injury. Although less toxic than APAP, AMAP dose-dependently triggered cell death in PHH as indicated by alanine aminotransferase (ALT) release and propidium iodide (PI) staining. Similar to APAP, AMAP also significantly depleted glutathione (GSH) in PHH and caused mitochondrial damage as indicated by glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) release and the JC-1 assay. However, unlike APAP, AMAP treatment did not cause relevant c-jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation in the cytosol or phospho-JNK translocation to mitochondria. To compare, AMAP toxicity was assessed in primary mouse hepatocytes (PMH). No cytotoxicity was observed as indicated by the lack of lactate dehydrogenase release and no PI staining. Furthermore, there was no GSH depletion or mitochondrial dysfunction after AMAP treatment in PMH. Immunoblotting for arylated proteins suggested that AMAP treatment caused extensive mitochondrial protein adduct formation in PHH but not in PMH. In conclusion, AMAP is hepatotoxic in PHH and the mechanism involves the formation of mitochondrial protein adducts and mitochondrial dysfunction.

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