Minocycline for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Minocycline, a tetracycline antibiotic, may be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is effective in about 60% of people with early or mild RA 1.

Minocycline does not have FDA labeling approval for this use, and it is a relatively weak disease-modifying antirheumatic drug compared with methotrexate or leflunomide.

How does Minocycline work for Rheumatoid arthritis?

Minocycline has immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain its usefulness in rheumatoid arthritis. It can block the actions of enzymes called metalloproteinases that play a role in the destruction of bone and cartilage in the joints in rheumatoid arthritis. There is also evidence that minocycline can dampen or modify some of the body's inflammatory responses.

Minocycline dosage for RA: 100 mg twice a day.

Minocycline has a slow onset and may take several months (range 2–6) to work. It may take up to a year before maximum benefits are achieved.


  • 1. O'Dell JR, Blakely KW, Mallek JA, et al. Treatment of early seropositive rheumatoid arthritis: a two-year, double-blind comparison of minocycline and hydroxychloroquine. Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Oct;44(10):2235-41. PubMed
  • 2. Tilley BC, Alarcón GS, Heyse SP, et al. Minocycline in rheumatoid arthritis. A 48-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. MIRA Trial Group. Ann Intern Med. 1995 Jan 15;122(2):81-9. PubMed

Author: OriginalDrugs Team
Last reviewed: September 8, 2012

Quick facts

  • Minocycline has shown to reduce joint pain and swelling in trials compared to placebo2, but it is not thought to prevent disease progression.