The retinoprotective role of phenytoin

Drug Des Devel Ther. 2018 Oct 16:12:3485-3489. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S169621. eCollection 2018.


Phenytoin is a non-sedative barbiturate derivate and has been recently rediscovered as a neuroprotective and retinoprotective compound in patients affected by optic neuritis secondary to multiple sclerosis. However, currently there are still no neuroprotective compounds registered and available in the clinic. We reviewed the literature supporting the retinoprotective properties of phenytoin and analyzed the various approaches and definitions from the first research periods onwards. The retinoprotective role of phenytoin was already known in the 1970s, but only recently has this effect been rediscovered, confirming that it could indeed provide structural protection of the retinal cells.

Keywords: multiple sclerosis; neuroprotection; optic neuritis; phenytoin; retinoprotection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Discovery
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Neuroprotective Agents / chemistry
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Optic Neuritis / complications
  • Optic Neuritis / pathology
  • Optic Neuritis / prevention & control*
  • Phenytoin / chemistry
  • Phenytoin / pharmacology*
  • Retina / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Phenytoin