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: cells throughout the body have receptors that can respond to them, because the endogenous ones are endocrine messengers.

Another example is melatonin, which has a wide range of effects on biological systems on multiple scales, from modulating the circadian rhythm and inducing sleep via the activation of melatoninergic receptors, to recepto-independent antioxydative and anti-inflammatory effects over all organs down to cells.[3][4]

See also



  1. ^ a b c 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 978-0-443-06911-6.
  3. ^ Mahmood, Danish (2019). "Pleiotropic Effects of Melatonin". Drug Research. 69 (02): 65–74. doi:10.1055/a-0656-6643. ISSN 2194-9379.
  4. ^ Slominski, Andrzej T.; Zmijewski, Michal A.; Skobowiat, Cezary; Zbytek, Blazej; Slominski, Radomir M.; Steketee, Jeffery D. (2012). "Sensing the environment: regulation of local and global homeostasis by the skin's neuroendocrine system". Advances in Anatomy, Embryology, and Cell Biology. 212: v, vii, 1–115. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-19683-6_1. ISSN 0301-5556. PMC 3422784. PMID 22894052.