The Clinical Role of N-acetylcysteine in the Management of COPD: A Review of Recent Literature

Author(s): Christopher J. Gillard, Claire M. Reuter

Journal Name: Current Respiratory Medicine Reviews

Volume 12 , Issue 2 , 2016

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Graphical Abstract:


Currently, bronchodilators are the mainstay treatment of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease while systemic corticosteroids and antibiotics have a major role in COPD acute exacerbations. Inhaled N-acetylcysteine is a mucolytic that has a pharmacologic role in respiratory conditions associated with excessive thick mucus production. Additionally, N-acetylcysteine has been studied as an adjunct agent for the clinical management of COPD because of its antioxidant and inflammatory properties. This paper provides a narrative review of literature on the effect Nacetylcysteine has on clinical outcomes in stable COPD and in acute COPD exacerbations. Primary literature was sought utilizing databases using Medline (2004-present). The database was searched using the key MeSH terms N-acetylcysteine and COPD, COPD exacerbation.

Current literature indicates in conjunction with standard drug regimen according to the COPD treatment guidelines, regular and high dose N-acetylcysteine (NAC) decrease frequency of exacerbations in stable COPD patient. Additionally, high dose N-acetylcysteine may improve airway obstruction in stable COPD patients. There is insignificant data for the use of N-acetylcysteine for patients experiencing acute exacerbations of COPD. Further studies should be performed as the overall benefits are still not fully established.

Keywords: N-acetylcysteine, COPD, COPD exacerbation, mucolytic.

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Article Details

Year: 2016
Published on: 27 July, 2016
Page: [136 - 141]
Pages: 6
DOI: 10.2174/1573398X12666160609082332
Price: $65

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