Tetracyclines are an amazing class of chemical agents with multiple therapeutic potential. Structural modification of the original natural tetracyclines led to the synthesis and development of doxycycline and minocycline, compounds with higher lipophilicity, better oral pharmacokinetics and higher potency. Due to diverse pharmacological properties, these drugs are now under extensive investigation for use in the treatment of various disparate diseases. In recent years, several studies have conclusively reported anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating and neuroprotective effects of these compounds. There are currently over 200 ongoing clinical trials on tetracyclines. These studies extend over a wide range of diseases including dermatological diseases, behavior and mental disorders, immune system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. In this review we will discuss the chemistry and pharmacology of these agents, and describe how their inhibitory effect on matrix metalloproteinase and on pro-inflammatory cytokines has kindled renewed interest in them. Based on the reports from pre-clinical and clinical trials, the therapeutic potential and application of tetracyclines may well be redefined and extensively extended.
Keywords: Tetracyclines, minocycline, doxycycline, antibiotic, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, matrix metalloproteinase, cytokines, apoptosis, Chlamydia trachomatis, Streptococcus pneumonia, antirheumatic drugs
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