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      Efficacy of N-Acetylcysteine on Endometriosis-Related Pain, Size Reduction of Ovarian Endometriomas, and Fertility Outcomes

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          Abstract

          Background: Endometriosis is a chronic, estrogen-dependent, inflammatory disease, whose pivotal symptoms are dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, and chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Besides the usual medical treatments, recent evidence suggests there are potential benefits of oral N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on endometriotic lesions and pain. The primary objective of this prospective single-cohort study was to confirm the effectiveness of NAC in reducing endometriosis-related pain and the size of ovarian endometriomas. The secondary objective was to assess if NAC may play a role in improving fertility and reducing the Ca125 serum levels. Methods: Patients aged between 18–45 years old with a clinical/histological diagnosis of endometriosis and no current hormonal treatment or pregnancy were included in the study. All patients received quarterly oral NAC 600 mg, 3 tablets/day for 3 consecutive days of the week for 3 months. At baseline and after 3 months, dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia and CPP were assessed using the Visual Analog Scale score (VAS), while the size of the endometriomas was estimated through a transvaginal ultrasound. Analgesics (NSAIDs) intake, the serum levels of Ca125 and the desire for pregnancy were also investigated. Finally, the pregnancy rate of patients with reproductive desire was evaluated. Results: One hundred and twenty patients were recruited. The intensity of dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia and CPP significantly improved (p < 0.0001). The use of NSAIDs (p = 0.001), the size of the endometriomas (p < 0.0001) and the serum levels of Ca125 (p < 0.0001) significantly decreased. Among the 52 patients with reproductive desire, 39 successfully achieved pregnancy within 6 months of starting therapy (p = 0.001). Conclusions: Oral NAC improves endometriosis-related pain and the size of endometriomas. Furthermore, it decreases Ca125 serum levels and may improve fertility in patients with endometriosis.

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          Endometriosis.

          Endometriosis is an oestrogen-dependent disorder that can result in substantial morbidity, including pelvic pain, multiple operations, and infertility. New findings on the genetics, the possible roles of the environment and the immune system, and intrinsic abnormalities in the endometrium of affected women and secreted products of endometriotic lesions have given insight into the pathogenesis of this disorder and serve as the background for new treatments for disease-associated pain and infertility. Affected women are at higher risk than the general female population of developing ovarian cancer, and they also may be at increased risk of breast and other cancers as well as autoimmune and atopic disorders. Clinicians should assess and follow up affected women for these and other associated disorders. There will probably be a new repertoire of approaches for treatment and perhaps cure of this enigmatic disorder in the near future.
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            N-Acetylcysteine--a safe antidote for cysteine/glutathione deficiency.

            Glutathione (GSH) deficiency is associated with numerous pathological conditions. Administration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a cysteine prodrug, replenishes intracellular GSH levels. NAC, best known for its ability to counter acetaminophen toxicity, is a safe, well-tolerated antidote for cysteine/GSH deficiency. NAC has been used successfully to treat GSH deficiency in a wide range of infections, genetic defects and metabolic disorders, including HIV infection and COPD. Over two-thirds of 46 placebo-controlled clinical trials with orally administered NAC have indicated beneficial effects of NAC measured either as trial endpoints or as general measures of improvement in quality of life and well-being of the patients.
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              N-Acetylcysteine as an antioxidant and disulphide breaking agent: the reasons why

              The main molecular mechanisms explaining the well-established antioxidant and reducing activity of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), the N-acetyl derivative of the natural amino acid l-cysteine, are summarised and critically reviewed. The antioxidant effect is due to the ability of NAC to act as a reduced glutathione (GSH) precursor; GSH is a well-known direct antioxidant and a substrate of several antioxidant enzymes. Moreover, in some conditions where a significant depletion of endogenous Cys and GSH occurs, NAC can act as a direct antioxidant for some oxidant species such as NO2 and HOX. The antioxidant activity of NAC could also be due to its effect in breaking thiolated proteins, thus releasing free thiols as well as reduced proteins, which in some cases, such as for mercaptoalbumin, have important direct antioxidant activity. As well as being involved in the antioxidant mechanism, the disulphide breaking activity of NAC also explains its mucolytic activity which is due to its effect in reducing heavily cross-linked mucus glycoproteins. Chemical features explaining the efficient disulphide breaking activity of NAC are also explained.
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                Journal
                IJERGQ
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                IJERPH
                MDPI AG
                1660-4601
                March 2023
                March 07 2023
                : 20
                : 6
                : 4686
                Article
                10.3390/ijerph20064686
                03cf738f-635b-4950-9c37-fa640897f216
                © 2023

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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