Minocycline and neurodegenerative diseases

Behav Brain Res. 2009 Jan 23;196(2):168-79. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.09.040. Epub 2008 Oct 11.


Minocycline is a semi-synthetic, second-generation tetracycline analog which is effectively crossing the blood-brain barrier, effective against gram-positive and -negative infections. In addition to its own antimicrobacterial properties, minocycline has been reported to exert neuroprotective effects over various experimental models such as cerebral ischemia, traumatic brain injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, kainic acid treatment, Huntington' disease and multiple sclerosis. Minocycline has been focused as a neuroprotective agent over neurodegenerative disease since it has been first reported that minocycline has neuroprotective effects in animal models of ischemic injury [Yrjanheikki J, Keinanen R, Pellikka M, Hokfelt T, Koisinaho J. Tetracyclines inhibit microglial activation and are neuroprotective in global brain ischemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1998;95:15769-74; Yrjanheikki J, Tikka T, Keinanen R, Goldsteins G, Chan PH, Koistinaho J. A tetracycline derivative, minocycline, reduces inflammation and protects against focal cerebral ischemia with a wide therapeutic window. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1999;96:13496-500]. Recently, the effect of minocycline on Alzheimer's disease has been also reported. Although its precise primary target is not clear, the action mechanisms of minocycline for neuroprotection reported so far are; via; the inhibition of mitochondrial permeability-transition mediated cytochrome c release from mitochondria, the inhibition of caspase-1 and -3 expressions, and the suppression of microglial activation, involvement in some signaling pathways, metalloprotease activity inhibition. Because of the high tolerance and the excellent penetration into the brain, minocycline has been clinically tried for some neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, amyotropic lateral sclerosis, Hungtington's disease and Parkinson's disease. This review will briefly summarize the effects and action mechanisms of minocycline on neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Minocycline / pharmacology*
  • Minocycline / therapeutic use
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Minocycline