The Role of N-Acetylcysteine in the Management of COPD

The Role of N-Acetylcysteine in the Management of COPD

N-acetylcysteine’s role in treating COPD is not yet fully understood. The current literature reveals that it has anti-inflammatory properties and can prevent exacerbations of COPD. However, more research is needed to determine the mechanism behind its efficacy. Navigate this link to learn more about the benefits of N-acetylcysteine for COPD patients.

Anti-inflammatory effect

Several studies have examined the anti-inflammatory effect of N-acetylcysteine in patients with chronic bronchitis, airway obstruction, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One such study was conducted by Linden M, Eklund A, and Novak RP. They found that the substance reduced the incidence of exacerbations, reduced pain, and improved breathing.

In one study, acetylcysteine was found to reduce hydrogen peroxide exhaled by patients with stable COPD. Another study examined the effect of the compound on patients with moderate to severe COPD and found that it decreased exacerbation rates in both groups. The results of these studies were consistent with those of other similar studies, showing that the compound is effective in treating COPD and its symptoms.

Prevention of exacerbations

To investigate the effectiveness of oral N-acetylcysteine in COPD, we performed a literature search using MeSH words for the keywords chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and N-acetylcysteine. We focused on studies that used NAC at 600 mg per day as the experimental group and excluded articles that did not explicitly report safety.

In the most extensive study of NAC’s effect on COPD exacerbations, PANTHEON, researchers found that taking NAC reduced the risk of moderate-to-severe COPD episodes by up to 60%. In addition, NAC significantly reduced the risk of exacerbations compared to placebo, especially in non-smokers and those taking long-acting bronchodilators.


There is a debate over the efficacy of N-acetyl cysteine in treating COPD. Effectiveness is based on studies of patients with COPD, including a recent trial in the Chinese population that confirmed the beneficial effects of NAC in mild to moderate COPD patients. In addition, researchers in Hong Kong used original imaging techniques to determine the benefits of high-dose N-acetyl cysteine in patients with mild to moderate COPD.

Research has shown that N-acetyl cysteine may improve lung inflammation, airway geometry, and oxidative stress. 


In addition to its role in treating COPD, N-acetylcysteiné has also been shown to decrease the number of acute exacerbations and reduce the hydrogen peroxide exhaled during breathing. As such, this substance may also play a role in managing chronic bronchitis. Further, it may also reduce the risk of death due to COPD, depending on the severity of the disease.

In addition to reducing airway geometry, N-acetylcysteine also has anti-inflammatory properties. It increases intracellular glutathione, a critical factor in controlling COPD. However, high dosage may be needed to exert its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects because NAC is a weak antioxidant. In addition, it is unlikely to affect airway mucus in COPD patients with severe lung disease, but it may improve the quality of life in COPD patients.

Clinical trials

The effectiveness of N-acetylcysteine as a COPD drug is unclear. Some studies suggest it reduces the number of acute exacerbation episodes and can improve chronic bronchitis and COPD symptoms. However, more research is needed before it can be used to help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The COPD clinical trials are not limited to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. Patients must be outpatients, 40 to 80 years old, and in stable clinical condition. In addition, patients must not have had more than two COPD exacerbations within two years. Patients should also have a steady disease state for four weeks before study initiation.