Pleiotropy (drugs)

In pharmacology, pleiotropy includes all of a drug's actions other than those for which the agent was specifically developed.[1] It may include adverse effects which are detrimental ones,[1] but is often used to denote additional beneficial effects.[2]

For example, statins are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors that primarily act by decreasing cholesterol synthesis, but which are believed to have other beneficial effects, including acting as antioxidants and stabilizing atherosclerotic plaques.[1] Steroid drugs, such as prednisone and prednisolone, have pleiotropic effects, including systemic ones, for the same reason that endogenous steroid hormones do too: cells throughout the body have receptors that can respond to them, because the endogenous ones are endocrine messengers.

See also


  1. Davignon J (June 2004). "Beneficial cardiovascular pleiotropic effects of statins". Circulation. 109 (23 Suppl 1): III39–43. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000131517.20177.5a. PMID 15198965.
  2. Rod Flower; Humphrey P. Rang; Maureen M. Dale; Ritter, James M. (2007). Rang & Dale's pharmacology. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. ISBN 0-443-06911-5.
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