Cats Have Nine Lives, But Only One Liver
The Effects of Acetaminophen
Department of Science
Borough of Manhattan Community College / City University of New York
In this case, a college student gives her cat Tylenol not knowing its potential harmful effects. The cat survives, but the incident motivates her to research the reaction mechanism underlying the liver toxicity of acetaminophen. The case outlines possible reaction schemes that would explain why acetaminophen-containing products can be toxic to the liver. Students are required to write a detailed mechanism for each. The case also presents evidence from the literature that supports one of the reaction schemes and eliminates the others. Students must identify the correct reaction scheme and mechanism based on this evidence. The case can be used in undergraduate organic chemistry, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and pharmacology courses.
- Practice writing ionic and radical reaction mechanisms.
- Make concrete the concept of “isotope labeling is reaction pathways studies.”
- Practice making evidence-based conclusions.
- Make connections between organic reaction mechanisms and biological systems.
KeywordsAcetaminophen; drug metabolism; liver damage; methemoglobinemia; reaction mechanism; Tylenol
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDirected, Discussion
Subject HeadingsBiochemistry | Organic Chemistry | Pharmacy / Pharmacology | Veterinary Science |
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