Whether accidental or on purpose, acetaminophen overdose is a common finding in liver poisoning. Researchers at the 2015 Liver Meeting said they have zeroed in on the mechanism at work.
Acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver. Reporting at the 2015 Liver Meeting (AASLD) in San Francisco, CA, Vivek Chowdhary of Ohio State University Medical Center said he and colleagues are closing in on the mechanism involved in this type of hepatic cell death in hopes of finding a way to prevent this damage. Of liver failures caused by drugs, 41% of those cases involve acetaminophen poisoning, he said.
"It is also a major method of suicide," Chowdhary said.
Reporting on mouse studies in which he subjected the animals to acetaminophen overdoses,Chowdhary said the studies showed that microRNA 122 is a marker for liver injury. "It is reduced in acetaminophen poisoning," he said.
The main finding was that microRNA 122 suppresses hemoprotein genes cytochrome 2e1 and cytochrome 1a2.
Earlier studies have found that mice lacking cytochrome 2e1 are less sensitive to the hepatotoxic effects of acetaminophen.
The finding that microRNA 122 suppresses these cytochromes could lead the way to a therapy for acetaminophen poisoning, including a gene therapy. "This is the mechanism of liver necrosis in Tylenol overdoses," he said.