N-acetylcysteine enhances antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity in neutrophils and mononuclear cells from healthy adults and human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients.


Roberts RL, Aroda VR, Ank BJ




J Infect Dis


Patients with AIDS have decreased levels of the intracellular antioxidant, glutathione, in their circulating lymphocytes and plasma. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) increases intracellular stores of glutathione and has direct antioxidant properties. In this study, the effects of glutathione and NAC on the cytotoxicity of neutrophils and mononuclear cells were tested using cells from healthy controls and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. NAC (1 and 5 mM) enhanced the antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) of neutrophils from healthy adult controls and HIV-infected adults and children. The antineoplastic drug, 1,3 bis(2-chloroethyl)-1- nitrosourea (BCNU), which depletes intracellular glutathione, inhibited the ADCC of neutrophils; the addition of NAC partially reversed this inhibition. Similar effects of BCNU and NAC were seen when the cytotoxicity of mononuclear cells was tested using CEM tumor cells bearing the HIV gp120 antigen as targets. Thus, NAC enhances various forms of cytotoxicity and may be beneficial to AIDS patients whose defects in leukocyte cytotoxicity may be due to glutathione depletion.