Promethazine is known to have protective activity in relation to CCl4-induced liver necrosis. This hepatoprotective property has been investigated with regard to the free radical scavenging and antioxidant properties of promethazine using isolated hepatocytes and microsomal suspensions. CCl4 is activated in both systems to free radical metabolites that bind covalently to lipid and protein, and initiate lipid peroxidation. A large number of carbonyl products is produced during CCl4-induced lipid peroxidation; promethazine strongly inhibits the production of all classes of carbonyl compounds in both microsomal suspensions and isolated hepatocytes. In contrast, promethazine is a very weak inhibitor of the covalent binding of metabolites of CCl4. We conclude that promethazine acts by scavenging the trichloromethylperoxyl radical and lipid peroxyl radicals, and is a weak scavenger of the trichloromethyl radical. These data, when considered together with the hepatoprotective effects of promethazine, suggest that lipid peroxidation is of relatively more importance than covalent binding in the pathogenesis of CCl4-induced liver necrosis.

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