Acute hepatic failure associated with oral minocycline: a case report

Pharmacotherapy. 1992;12(1):68-71.


A 39-year-old woman was evaluated for possible liver transplantation due to rapidly developing hepatic failure 4 weeks after initiation of oral minocycline 100 mg twice a day for the treatment of acne. The patient developed a maculopapular rash, malaise, fever, nausea, and vomiting 2 weeks prior to admission to the hospital. On admission, her symptoms rapidly progressed to liver failure characterized by rapidly rising liver enzyme levels, worsening encephalopathy, and coagulopathy. Viral hepatitis serologies and blood cultures were all negative. After intensive supportive care for 2 weeks, the patient's condition gradually improved and she was discharged with mildly elevated liver enzyme levels and pruritus, without need of liver transplantation. Minocycline-induced hepatic injury is an idiosyncratic reaction with a sensitization period that appears to be 3-4 weeks in duration. The characteristic features include rash, fever, lymphadenopathy, and eosinophilia, as well as severe alterations in liver function. The high liver enzyme levels and the significant prolongation of the prothrombin time suggest massive hepatocellular damage. In light of the profound liver damage that occurs with this adverse reaction, care should be taken in administering minocycline to patients who have concomitant liver disease. It is recommended that patients should be instructed as to the possible signs and symptoms of toxicity and be monitored for evidence of idiosyncratic reaction or liver failure.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Minocycline / administration & dosage
  • Minocycline / adverse effects*
  • Minocycline / therapeutic use


  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Minocycline
  • Bilirubin