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J Esthet Dent. 1998;10(4):182-6.

Protection against minocycline pigment formation by ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

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Baylor College of Dentistry, Texas A&M University System, Dallas, USA.


Minocycline, a member of the tetracycline family of antibiotics, is widely used in the treatment of acne. Its use has been associated with intrinsic staining of adult human teeth, bones, and soft tissues. It causes blackening of the thyroid glands in both animals and humans. It has been determined that the pigment is the product of an oxidation reaction. Laboratory studies have shown that the pigment formation can be induced by exposure to ultraviolet light in the presence of air, and that an antioxidant, such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), can block its formation. The present study was undertaken to determine whether the antioxidant vitamin C could prevent the pigmentation of tissues of laboratory rats given minocycline. Based on other studies, one group of rats was given minocycline by stomach tube at a dose of 75 mg/kg/day, 5 days per week, for 6 weeks. A second experimental group was given the same regimen of minocycline plus a supplement of ascorbic acid at a level of 0.1% of the diet. A control group received no treatment at all; all rats were maintained on laboratory rats chow and water ad libitum. The rats were euthanized by carbon dioxide inhalation. Nasomaxillary bones, including central incisors, and thyroid glands were removed and fixed with 10% buffered formalin. Bones and teeth showed no gross signs of staining and, therefore, were not processed further. Thyroid glands were visibly darker in the minocycline group; specimens from all three groups were processed histologically. Microscopic examination revealed extensive deposits of black pigment throughout the follicles of the minocycline group, whereas the group receiving both minocycline and vitamin C showed no sign of pigmentation and were indistinguishable from controls. It is suggested that patients on long-term minocycline medication be monitored for thyroid function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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