Painkiller Study May Lead to Treating Liver Damage

Painkiller Study May Lead to Treating Liver Damage

By Staff

The common painkiller, paracetamol (known more commonly as acetaminophine in the United States), causes liver damage, but now scientists have found insights into how the damage occurs - and that may lead to new therapies to counteract the sometimes fatal damage.

This is important because paracetamol is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the Western world.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh studied the impact of paracetamol on liver cells in human and mouse tissue.  Tests showed that paracetamol can damage the liver by harming vital structural connections between adjacent cells in the organ.

When these cell wall connections - known as tight junctions - are disrupted, they cause damage to the liver tissue structure, then the cells are unable to function properly and they can die.

This type of cell damage is known to occur in liver conditions including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancer, but until now it was not linked to paracetamol toxicity.

“Paracetamol is the world’s preferred pain remedy - it is cheap, and considered safe and effective at therapeutic dose. However, drug-induced liver damage remains an important clinical problem and a challenge for developing safer drugs. Our findings reinforce the need for vigilance in paracetamol use, and could help discover how harm caused by its adverse use might be prevented,” said Dr Leonard Nelson, of the University of Edinburgh’s Hepatology Laboratory and Institute for Bioengineering, who co-led the study.

Researchers are now looking to develop a reliable method of using human liver cells as an alternative to animal testing, and look to understand the impact of paracetamol doses on liver toxicity.

“Although liver damage caused by paracetamol toxicity has been the subject of intense study for 40 years, recent developments in biosensor technology are enabling a fuller picture of the biological mechanisms involved,” said co-author Pierre Bagnaninchi, of the University’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

The study, involving researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Oslo and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, was published in Scientific Reports.

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Authored by: Staff

newest oldest
Notify of

When you have terrible pain and no doctor you survive as best you can. Four years of taking 800mg ibuprofen every 6 hours has taken its toll on my digestion. My stomach is very angry and very little of the tiny amount of food I take in digests. Now the safer pain meds I have taken successfully for years are being taken away. I would like to personally thank the idiots who have decided that this is a good thing! Don’t know what I will do now to control the continuous pain now.


I agree the the above comment, “recommended dosage” is the key. I’ve had a daily limit for paracetamol/acetaminophen (Tylenol) for 4yrs. Very simple, you have a MAXIMUM daily dose (4000mg) unless you want to cause liver failure.
If you have liver problems or are on blood thinners tell your doctor. Don’t crush tablets, etc, etc. They are not there to give you ideas, they’re for your on going safety.
Same with Ibuprofen (Advil), take with food to REDUCE risk of stomach problems. But this is not a long-term medicine, all NSAID have been found to cause stomach and intestinal bleeding. They don’t say this to sell more! It’s there to warn you so you don’t sue. Follow the instructions and you reduce your chances of bad reactions or side effects. It’s not that hard people!

BTW I have no brand affiliations, I just suffer chronic pain and take a active interest in my treatment.

Kat Hart

So this is the standard additive in common pain meds. Its Tylenol here in the U.S.
Ibuprophen is Advil. This also has bad effects for many.
For me it took about 3 months to affect my stomach, which is the well-known problem.
But its a tad less risky if not taken on an empty stomach. But now, after years of avoidance, both of these ‘pain’ killers create havoc and pain on first dose. That is my experience.

Ibin Aiken

I am thankful for research. Shame that all positive result research does not come to “light” when beneficial for mankind. Or at least until the monetary aspect (profit) has been researched as well. I realize the monetary result is not the primary goal of all research…ers.
A pain specialist , an anestetheologist doctor, told me 20 years ago that acetaminophine was the culprit responsible for approximately 20,0000 deaths per year in the USA. Of course these deaths were the result of many years of over taking the “safe, reliable” compound when taken as directed. The same responsibility that lies with taking acetaminophine as directed lies with the chronic pain patient to “take as directed”. However, if the dosage or medication prescribed is not easing pain sufficiently and, the patient tells the physician that they are still in significant pain, change of medication or dosage should be explored. That’s all out the window now. It does not matter if sufficient pain is eased or not. The new “guideline” does not allow the physician ANY judgement as to how to prescribe for the INDIVIDUAL chronic pain patient. One shoe fits all. Millions of chronic pain patients will be/are in uncontrollable, severe pain with zero recourse of alternative treatment. Some of us may find alternative treatment for pain that actually helps. I, personally am investigating other sources of relief that I can afford, can find the time and way to try, and can physically do if P.T. related. An “epidemic” of unnecessary suffering due to chronic pain is here in America now. If unnecessary suffering has not got to you yet and, you are a chronic pain patient, it will soon enough. Write your state politicians, write your state medical board, write, the Governor of your state, write Congress, write the President. Tell your narrative of how the “guideline” that is placing all chronic pain patients into the “one shoe fits all” methodology of opioid medication prescribing is affecting you and the 10’s of millions of chronic pain patients, unjustly.