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Tetracycline chemical structure
Systematic (IUPAC) name
CAS number 60-54-8
ATC code A01AB13 D06AA04 J01AA07 S01AA09 S02AA08 S03AA02
PubChem 643969
DrugBank APRD00572
Chemical data
Formula C22H24N2O8 
Mol. weight 444.435 g/mol
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 60-80% Oral, while fasting
<40% Intramuscular
Metabolism Not metabolised
Half life 6-11 hours
Excretion Fecal and Renal
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat. D(AU) D(US)
Legal status Prescription only
Routes oral, topical (skin & eye), im, iv

Tetracycline (INN) (IPA: [ ˌtɛtrəˈsaɪklin ]) is a broad-spectrum antibiotic produced by the streptomyces bacterium, indicated for use against many bacterial infections. It is commonly used to treat acne. It is sold under the brand names SumycinŽ;, TetracynŽ; and PanmycinŽ, among others. ActisiteŽ is a thread-like fiber form, used in dental applications. It is also used to produce several semi-synthetic derivatives, which together are known as the Tetracycline antibiotic group. It works by inhibiting action of the prokaryotic 30S ribosome. Toxicity may be result of inactivation of mitochondrial 30S ribosomes in host cells.



Tetracycline was first discovered by Lloyd Conover in the research departments of Pfizer. The patent for Tetracycline was first issued in 1950 (patent number 2,624,354). Tetracycline sparked the development of many chemically altered antibiotics and in doing so has proved to be one of the most important discoveries made in the field of antibiotics.

Cautions, Contraindications, Side effects

Are as those of the Tetracycline antibiotics group:

  • Can stain developing teeth (even when taken by the mother during pregnancy)
    Inactivated by Ca2+ ion, not advised to be taken with milk or yogurt
    Skin photosensitivity, not advised to be exposed to the Sun or intense light
    Drug induced lupus, and hepatitis


Tetracycline's primary use is for the treatment of acne vulgaris and rosacea.

It is also used to treat a very wide range of infections; see Tetracycline antibiotics for details.

Other uses

Since tetracycline is absorbed into bone, it is used as a marker of bone growth for biopsies in humans, and as a biomarker in wildlife to detect consumption of medicine- or vaccine-containing baits. The presence of tetracyline in bone is detected by its fluorescence.


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