Paracetamol overdose poses severe risk of acute liver failure: Study | Health - Hindustan Times

Paracetamol overdose poses severe risk of acute liver failure: Study

By, New Delhi
Feb 20, 2024 07:44 PM IST

The University of Edinburgh's recent study on Paracetamol highlighted its potential to cause liver damage, especially in cases of overdose.

According to a recent study by the University of Edinburgh, liver damage can be induced by Paracetamol, a common painkiller. New information on how the popular painkiller damages the liver is revealed by studies conducted on mice. The findings provide important information about overdosage toxicity, which is sometimes fatal and difficult to cure.

Study reveals how Paracetamol damages the liver, highlighting the need for caution in its use
Study reveals how Paracetamol damages the liver, highlighting the need for caution in its use

Organ failure

The finding could help guide research into treatments to mitigate the negative effects of the drug, which is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the West. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh studied how paracetamol affected liver cells in both human and mouse tissue. Their findings showed that under certain circumstances, paracetamol can damage the liver by interfering with the structural junctions that are essential for the proper functioning of neighbouring cells in the liver.

Tight junctions are connections between cells in the cell wall that, when broken, damage the structure of liver tissue, impairing cell function and possibly even causing cell death. Although this type of cell destruction has been linked to liver diseases such as cancer, cirrhosis and hepatitis, it has not previously been linked to paracetamol toxicity.

Further testing

The researchers now aim to develop a reliable method of using human liver cells as an alternative to animal testing. They will then look at how different doses and times of paracetamol affect toxicity in the liver and identify potential targets for new drugs. Scientific Reports has published the study, which involved researchers from the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Universities of Edinburgh and Oslo. It received partial funding from the Chief Scientist Office and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Paracetamol is the world's most popular pain reliever since it is affordable, safe and effective when used as directed. However, drug-induced liver damage remains a significant clinical problem and a barrier to the development of safer medicines. The findings highlight the need for caution in the use of paracetamol and may provide insight into ways to reduce the harm that can result from inappropriate use.

Dr. Leonard Nelson from the Hepatology Laboratory and Institute for Bioengineering stresses the significance of these findings in understanding and preventing Paracetamol-related harm. While research on Paracetamol toxicity has a long history, recent advancements in biosensor technology offer new avenues for understanding its mechanisms, as noted by Pierre Bagnaninchi from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

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