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Equine Vet J. 2010 Apr;42(3):208-12. doi: 10.2746/042516409X478514.

Orally administered doxycycline accumulates in synovial fluid compared to plasma.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.



Tetracycline compounds have been used to slow the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis but the concentration of doxycycline attained in synovial fluid following oral, low-dose administration has yet to be determined.


To determine the concentration of doxycycline in synovial fluid following oral, low-dose administration.


Six mature horses received doxycycline (5 mg/kg bwt q. 12 h for 5 doses). Venous blood and synovial fluid samples were collected at t=0, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 12, 24, 48 and 72 h. Doxycycline concentrations were measured using reverse phase high pressure liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection.


Doxycycline concentrations at all time points after t=0 were above the lower limit of quantification for the assay. Plasma concentrations of doxycycline were above 0.21 microg/ml at t=0.5 h. The mean+/-s.d. peak concentration (Cmax) of doxycycline in plasma was 0.37+/-0.22 microg/ml and time to peak concentration was 0.54+/-0.19 h. Synovial fluid concentrations of doxycycline were above 0.12 microg/ml 1 h after drug administration. The mean Cmax of doxycycline in the synovial fluid was 0.27+/-0.10 microg/ml. The penetration factor of doxycycline from plasma into synovial fluid, as determined by a ratio of the area-under-the-curve for synovial fluid:plasma during the sampling period, was 4.6.


Orally administered doxycycline distributes easily into synovial fluid with a penetration factor of 4.6. Terminal half-life of the drug in synovial fluid was longer than in the plasma, indicating possible accumulation in this compartment. Further in vivo studies are warranted to define a medication protocol prior to routine clinical use of doxycycline for the treatment of OA.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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