A Sex-Dependent Association between Doxycycline Use and Development of Schizophrenia

Lot D. De Witte*, Thomas Munk Laursen, Cheryl M. Corcoran, Rene S. Kahn, Rebecca Birnbaum, Trine Munk-Olsen, Veerle Bergink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Doxycycline and minocycline are brain-penetrant tetracycline antibiotics, which recently gained interest because of their immunomodulatory and neuroprotective properties. Observational studies have suggested that exposure to these drugs may decrease the risk to develop schizophrenia, but results are inconsistent. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential association between doxycycline use and later onset of schizophrenia. Design: We used data from 1 647 298 individuals born between 1980 and 2006 available through Danish population registers. 79 078 of those individuals were exposed to doxycycline, defined as redemption of at least 1 prescription. Survival analysis models stratified for sex with time-varying covariates were constructed to assess incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for schizophrenia (ICD-10 code F20.xx), with adjustment for age, calendar year, parental psychiatric status, and educational level. Results: In the non-stratified analysis, there was no association between doxycycline exposure and schizophrenia risk. However, men who redeemed doxycycline had a significantly lower incidence rate for schizophrenia onset compared to men that did not (IRR 0.70; 95% CI 0.57-0.86). By contrast, women had a significantly higher incidence rate for schizophrenia onset, compared to women that did not redeem doxycycline prescriptions (IRR 1.23; 95% CI 1.08, 1.40). The effects were not found for other tetracycline antibiotics (IRR 1.00; 95% CI 0.91, 1.09). Conclusions: Doxycycline exposure is associated with a sex-dependent effect on schizophrenia risk. The next steps are replication of the results in independent well-characterized population cohorts, as well as preclinical studies to investigate sex-specific effects of doxycycline on biological mechanisms implicated in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-961
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) R21 MH123913.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'A Sex-Dependent Association between Doxycycline Use and Development of Schizophrenia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this