Active Ingredients

Griseofulvin – Effect, Application & Risks


Griseofulvin is an antifungal used to treat skin infections caused by dermatophytes (thread fungi). It is a fungal toxin produced by the mold Penicillium griseofulvum.

What is griseofulvin?

Griseofulvin is a chemical component of the mold Penicillium griseofulvum. As a fungal toxin, it has an antibiotic effect against filamentous fungi, which mainly affect the skin and its appendages, such as e.g. B. Finger and toenails affected.

However, griseofulvin is ineffective against other fungi, including mould. Chemically, it is a benzofuran derivative that can be applied both orally and locally. It is, so to speak, a poison produced by mold fungi, which in turn acts against other types of fungi.

Research has also shown that griseofulvin can also fight cancer cells by inhibiting their cell division. This property has no medical significance. Griseofulvin is currently only used as an antifungal agent against dermatophytes.

Pharmacological action

Griseofulvin ‘s mode of action is due to its influence on cell division. It inhibits mitosis (cell division) and thus causes the corresponding cells to die without subsequent cell lines being able to form.

Griseofulvin binds to the intracellular protein tubulin, which is a basic building block of microtubules. These microtubules, in turn, are components of the spindle fibers that are responsible for the cell’s mitosis. However, if griseofulvin binds to tubulins, these can no longer be used to construct the microtubules. Ultimately, the formation of the spindle fibers necessary for cell division is impeded, with mitosis and the intracellular transport of substances being inhibited.

The reason why griseofulvin mainly combats filamentous fungi that have infested the skin is that the active ingredient is firmly bound to the keratin of the skin after oral administration. Its removal there is only possible again through the desquamation of dead skin cells.

For energetic reasons, the griseofulvin-keratin complexes migrate selectively into these cells in the presence of dermatophytes and disrupt their cell division. The same mechanism of action also causes the observed inhibitory effect of griseofulvin on cell division in cancer cells.

Medical Application & Use

Today, griseofulvin is mainly used to treat children with tinea corporis and tinea capitis . Griseofulvin is the only drug approved for its therapy in Germany.

It is used less frequently in the treatment of onychomycosis (nail fungus) because there are more effective drugs for this purpose. Tinea corporis, also known as ringworm, is a fungal disease of the trunk and extremities without involving the hands, feet, and groin. This disease causes ring-shaped, circular reddening with scaling and itching of the skin. Several types of dermatophytes are responsible for the development of these symptoms.

Treatment is with griseofulvin-containing ointments that are applied locally. Tinea capitis, on the other hand, is a dermatophytosis characterized by the infestation of the hairy scalp with dermatophytes, particularly in adolescents during puberty . There is circular hair loss with scaly changes. Treatment is by local and systemic application of medication containing griseofulvin.

The duration of therapy can be up to three months. Other skin mycoses , such as B. athlete’s foot are treated with griseofulvin, among other things. Onychomycosis (nail fungus) was also commonly treated with griseofulvin in the past. Today, griseofulvin is used less frequently in addition to other active ingredients

Risks & side effects

Side effects can also occur when using griseofulvin . First of all, it should always be noted that there are people who are sensitive to certain active ingredients. In this case, of course, the use of griseofulvin is contraindicated.

Otherwise, gastrointestinal disorders and skin changes have occasionally been observed. In rare cases, neurological problems and blood count changes can occur. Griseofulvin is contraindicated in liver dysfunction, collagenosis or blood disorders such as porphyria .

Furthermore, the effect of certain medications is reduced, e.g. B. the pill or anticoagulants. Since griseofulvin affects cytochrome P 450, taking other medications must be coordinated with the doctor. Adverse effects of griseofulvin with other medicines can lead to headaches , fatigue , nausea , vomiting , diarrhea , allergies or sensory disturbances.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.