Systemic tetracyclines in the treatment of noninfected corneal ulcers: a case report and proposed new mechanism of action

Ann Ophthalmol. 1985 Dec;17(12):742-4.


Corneal melting refers to a condition in patients whose corneas undergo progressive necrosis of stromal tissue despite being culture negative. Recent evidence has shown that systemic tetracyclines demonstrate anti-collagenolytic activity that may have clinical effectiveness in disease treatment. The evidence led us to try this modality as adjunct therapy in the treatment of an 80-year-old white man with a noninfected corneal ulcer. One gram of tetracycline in four divided doses led to a dramatic resolution of the corneal ulcer. This positive result supports the new concept that tetracycline therapy inhibits tissue collagenolytic enzyme activity by a mechanism unrelated to its antibacterial efficacy and may prove useful in the treatment of nonspecific corneal ulceration.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Corneal Ulcer / drug therapy*
  • Corneal Ulcer / pathology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Keratitis, Dendritic / drug therapy*
  • Keratitis, Dendritic / pathology
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Tetracycline / therapeutic use*


  • Tetracycline