The product Acriflaviniumchlorid was developed by IG Farben during the 1920s. First, the drug was used for the treatment of wound infections in the mouth and throat. Due to the mode of action, however, it is to be feared that acriflavinium chloride could cause cancer. The active substance is therefore no longer used in human medicine, but in veterinary medicine in the treatment of ornamental fish.

What is Acriflavinium Chloride?

The drug is no longer used in human medicine because it could cause cancer, but in veterinary medicine in the treatment of ornamental fish, it is still used.

Acriflavinium chloride is an active substance consisting of a substance mixture, which was registered in 1929 by the chemical company IG Farben for a patent. It is an antiseptic used to treat infections of the oropharynx and sleeping sickness.

Since a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has shown that Acriflaviniumchlorid may possibly promote the development of cancer, the drug is no longer used in human medicine.

However, acriflavinium chloride is widely used by aquarium owners who use the means of disinfecting aquariums as well as treating various diseases in fish. Basically Acriflaviniumchlorid is classified in the activity group of antiseptics, where it is used in the strict sense as a disinfectant.

Pharmacological action

The spread of viruses and bacteria is inhibited by acriflavinium chloride by the drug in the DNA of the pathogen sandwiches between two base pairs. The next cell division leads to a so-called grid mutation, which changes the genome of the pathogens.

Similar to antibiotics, therefore, it can lead to resistance of different viral and bacterial strains, because the incorporation of the drug causes a mutation that can continue. Acriflavinium chloride is effective especially in Gram-positive bacteria. These bacterial strains discolored on a microscopic examination in a manner defined by Hans Christian Gram, whereby the diagnosis of the pathogen in various infectious diseases is facilitated.

Gram-positive bacteria are mostly actinobacteria or Firmicutes, which play an important role in the degradation of pollutants in nature, but often occur as pathogens. Because Acriflaviniumchlorid attacks not only the bacteria and viruses, but also unfolds the mechanism of action in the body cells of humans, it can also lead here to mutations of individual cells. This is especially true with repeated use.

Medical application & use

The active ingredient Acriflaviniumchlorid plays an important role in veterinary medicine in the treatment of ornamental fish. Treated here are a variety of diseases such as bacterial infections, fungal infections, fin rot, or minor inflammation.

Here the preparation is applied externally by simply adding it to the aquarium water. In addition to adult fish, fish spawn infected with an infection can also be treated with acriflavinium chloride. Effective help promises the drug also against various harmful parasites, including gill and skin flukes. Acriflavinium Chloride weakens already broken infections and can prevent the onset of infections. Therefore, the preparation is also used for disinfecting aquariums.

Aquarium owners should be careful to clean the filters before adding acriflavinium chloride to the water. In fish farming, acriflavinium chloride also plays an important role as an effective preparation. Here it belongs to the standard remedy, which is given in quarantine ponds, even if the fish suffer from other illnesses. Because these can promote the emergence of infections of weakened fish. Through the use of Acriflaviniumchlorid the Teichwirt has the guarantee that at least a part of the fish population can be saved.

Risks & Side Effects

The most common disadvantages of acriflavinium chloride include a yellowish discoloration of the water. In addition, aquatic plants can be damaged or killed. Because the active ingredient also penetrates into the cells of the diseased fish, the administration of acriflavinium chloride can lead to infertility in some fish species such as guppies.

For this reason, the drug may no longer be used in human medicine in Germany, because it is one of the trigger factors for various types of cancer. The mutagenic effects of acriflavinium chloride also mean that many pathogens have developed partial or complete resistance in the meantime. In the long term, the product can thus be ineffective against complete bacterial and viral strains, as is already the case with antibiotics. Tags: 

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