DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM:
- Methoxsalen is a naturally occurring photoactive chemical found in the seeds of the Ammi majus (Umbelliferae) plant and in the roots of Heraclem candicans. It belongs to a group of compounds known as psoralens, or furocoumarins. It is used for treating psoriasis, idiopathic vitiligo (leucoderma) and cutaneous (skin) manifestations of T-cell lymphoma. The exact mechanism of action of methoxsalen is not known.
- Methoxsalen has several biological actions that may be responsible for its medical effects. Ultraviolet radiation of 320-400 nm wavelength (UVA) is beneficial for treating psoriasis, vitiligo, and skin manifestations of T-cell lymphoma. Methoxsalen is a photosensitizer that increases the reaction of the skin to UVA. Methoxsalen also combines with DNA in skin cells. Upon administration, methoxsalen reaches the skin via blood. When UVA penetrates the skin, cellular damage occurs, leading to inflammation. The damaged skin heals after several days to weeks.
- Some experts suggest that methoxsalen improves vitiligo by stimulating melanocytes (melanin forming skin cells) to move up the hair follicle and to repopulate the epidermis. Psoriasis causes an over production of skin cells. Methoxsalen may benefit psoriasis by decreasing skin cell production by damaging DNA.
- The FDA approved methoxsalen capsules in December 1954.
REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information
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