N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

Key Studies on N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

  • NAC is an an antioxidant and is a precursor to Glutathione, where the Sulphonyl of Cysteine forms the most important unit in Glutathione. 
  • Glutathione converts L-Cysteine (in NAC) into various neurotransmitters.
  • Cysteine is present in low concentrations in our diet. In addition, only certain forms of Cysteine can enter a cell. To make matters difficult, Cysteine is fragile and is often destroyed by heat, or the stomach acids, before it can be absorbed by the body.
  • NAC however is a variation of Cysteine, that can help Cysteine survive in the digestive tract.
  • N-acetylcysteine may be beneficial in the treatment of schizophrenia by targeting both oxidative stress and glutamatergic dysfunction, suggesting that the phenotype is a result of interactions of multiple neurotransmitter pathways. (R1)
  • Similarly, the modulation of inflammatory pathways may also play a role in the benefits seen following NAC treatment. As with the atypical antipsychotics, which have new data showing a diversity of mechanisms of action, including on inflammation (R2), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (R3) and oxidative stress (R4), efficacy may turn out to be a summative interaction of effects on various pathways.


  • NAC usage in pharmaceutical drug or supplement has certain toxicity and needs to be used at a lowest effective dosage.


  • R1. Carlsson, A., The neurochemical circuitry of schizophrenia. Pharmacopsychiatry 2006, 39 Suppl 1, S10-4.
  • R2. Bian, Q.; Kato, T.; Monji, A.; Hashioka, S.; Mizoguchi, Y.; Horikawa, H.; Kanba, S., The effect of atypical antipsychotics, perospirone, ziprasidone and quetiapine on microglial activation induced by interferon-gamma. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2008, 32 (1), 42-8.
  • R3. Bai, O.; Chlan-Fourney, J.; Bowen, R.; Keegan, D.; Li, X. M., Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA in rat hippocampus after treatment with antipsychotic drugs. J Neurosci Res 2003, 71 (1), 127-31.
  • R4. Pillai, A.; Parikh, V.; Terry, A. V., Jr.; Mahadik, S. P., Long-term antipsychotic treatments and crossover studies in rats: differential effects of typical and atypical agents on the expression of antioxidant enzymes and membrane lipid peroxidation in rat brain. Journal of psychiatric research 2007, 41 (5), 372-86.