What is the Difference Between Acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine

The key difference between acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine is that acetylcysteine is a comparatively less toxic form, while N-acetylcysteine is a more toxic form.

Acetylcysteine is an organic compound having the chemical formula C5H9NO3S. It is sometimes known as N-acetylcysteine, but they are slightly different according to the toxicity.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Acetylcysteine
3. What is N-acetylcysteine
4. Similarities – Acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine
5. Acetylcysteine vs N-acetylcysteine in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Acetylcysteine vs N-acetylcysteine

What is Acetylcysteine?

Acetylcysteine is an organic compound having the chemical formula C5H9NO3S. It is sometimes known as N-acetylcysteine, but they are slightly different according to the application. It is a medication used to treat paracetamol overdose and to loosen thick mucus in individuals having chronic bronchopulmonary disorders such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Moreover, this medication has been used in treating lactobezoar in infants. We can take this medication intravenously, orally, or through inhalation as a mist. Sometimes, people use it as a dietary supplement as well.

Figure 01: The Chemical Structure of Acetylcysteine Molecule

There are some common side effects associated with this medication, such as nausea, vomiting, skin redness and itchiness, etc. However, it is apparently safe to be used during pregnancy.

If we are using this medication to treat paracetamol overdose, it can work by increasing the level of glutathione, which is an antioxidant that neutralizes the toxic breakdown products of paracetamol. Moreover, if we inhale it, it can act as a mucolytic by decreasing the thickness of mucus.

When taken by mouth, the bioavailability of acetylcysteine is about 10%. The protein binding ability ranges from 50 to 83%. The metabolism occurs in the liver. The elimination half-life is about 5.6 hours. Excretion of this medication occurs through the renal route or faecal route.

What is N-acetylcysteine?

N-acetylcysteine is a form of acetylcysteine, and it is banned from being used in supplements. This is because there is no evidence that this substance was used in supplements before its use as a drug, which leads to the unpopularity of the product, and it is illegal to be used as a supplement now.

Figure 02: N-Acetyl Cysteine

Moreover, as a prescription drug, this medication is used by doctors to treat acetaminophen overdose, and it can also help break up mucus in people having some lung diseases.

What are the Similarities Between Acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine?

  • Acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine have the same chemical formula:
  • Sometimes these two terms, acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine, are used interchangeably.
  • Both are used as supplements.
  • But both substances may show side effects when used as supplements or drugs.
  • In addition, these substances contain some degree of toxicity.

What is the Difference Between Acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine?

The key difference between acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine is that acetylcysteine is a comparatively less toxic form, while N-acetylcysteine is a more toxic form. Acetylcysteine is an organic compound having the chemical formula C5H9NO3S. It is sometimes known as N-acetylcysteine, but they are slightly different according to the toxicity.

Below is a summary of the difference between acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Acetylcysteine vs N-acetylcysteine

Acetylcysteine is an organic compound having the chemical formula C5H9NO3S. N-acetylcysteine is a form of acetylcysteine, and it is banned from use in supplements. The key difference between acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine is that acetylcysteine is a comparatively less toxic form while N-acetylcysteine is a more toxic form.