Clinical features of acetaminophen toxicity

C. J. McClain, J. Holtzman, J. Allen, J. Kromhout, S. Shedlofsky

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30 Scopus citations


Thirteen patients met our criteria for severe acetaminophen hepatotoxicity over a 5-year study period. Six patients had therapeutic misadventures (not attempting suicide), and seven were attempting suicide. Five of six patients in the therapeutic misadventure group were chronic alcoholics, and three were taking other drugs reported to cause hepatic microsomal enzyme induction. In the suicide group, two of seven patients were alcoholics, and one patient was taking another inducing drug. All six patients in the therapeutic misadventure group had nausea, vomiting, or starvation, whereas two of seven patients in the suicide group had similar characteristics. Starvation could deplete the protective factor glutathione, thus augmenting hepatotoxicity. In the therapeutic misadventure group, four of six patients developed acute tubular necrosis, as compared to two of seven in the suicide group. One patient died in each group. Clinicians should be aware of these features as part of the spectrum of acetaminophen toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-80
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of clinical gastroenterology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1988


  • Acetaminophen
  • Alcoholism
  • Cytochrome P
  • Liver injury


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