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Hydrophilic vs. Hydrophobic – Absorption and Distribution | Pharmacokinetics (PK)

by Pravin Shukle, MD
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    Now why do we talk about hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs. Hydrophilic drugs or lipophobic drugs are are drugs that love waters. So hydro means water, philic means love. Now any drug that loves water is going to hate oil. So lipophobic and hydrophilic are the same thing. Hydrophilic drugs are usually polar. Hydrophobic drugs are usually not polar. Hydrophilic drugs dissolve in water so it's aqueous diffusion. Hydrophobic drugs dissolve in lipid or oil so they have lipid diffusion. Hydrophilic drugs need a pore or a transporter to get across that lipid bilayer. Hydrophobic drugs or lipophilic drugs often can cross barriers without the need of pores or transporters. This is an important distinguishing feature between these two types of drug. Hydrophilic drugs, because they can't cross that membrane usually don't cross the blood brain barrier or the blood uterine barrier. So generally speaking, which is'nt always true, hydrophilic drugs don't affect cerebral function and usually are safer in pregnancy. Hydrophobic drugs or lipophilic drugs are almost always drugs that have some kind of a central effect and almost always have some kind of a fetal effect. Now when we talk about aqueous diffusion, we are talking about molecule movement through water, and lipid diffusion is through oil. Aqueous diffusion is always dependant on the passages of water between cells or the passage of water through pore. It is a passive process when you have aqueous diffusion and similarly with lipid diffusion you have movement through membranes and it is also a passive process. All of the passive processes are governed by Fick's Law. Now before we get too bogged down on the equation, let's just remember that it is propertional to the diffusion constant of the drug, the surface area of the membrane, the thickness of the membrane and...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Hydrophilic vs. Hydrophobic – Absorption and Distribution | Pharmacokinetics (PK) by Pravin Shukle, MD is from the course Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics. It contains the following chapters:

    • Hydrophilic vs. Hydrophobic
    • Quiz: Characteristics of Hydrophilic Drugs

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. similar or same as a hydrophobic drug.
    2. will not be able to cross the blood brain barrier.
    3. similar or same as a hydrophilic drug.
    4. able to move through the lipid bilayer membrane only through the use of pores or porins.
    5. more stable than a hydrophilic drug.

    Author of lecture Hydrophilic vs. Hydrophobic – Absorption and Distribution | Pharmacokinetics (PK)

     Pravin Shukle, MD

    Pravin Shukle, MD


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