Commonly Used Pharmacological Terms
Absorbance is used for assays such as ELISA assays, protein and nucleic acid quantification or enzyme activity assays (i.e. in the MTT assay for cell viability). A light source illuminates the sample using a specific wavelength (selected by an optical filter, or a monochromator), and a light detector located on the other side of the well measures how much of the initial (100 %) light is transmitted through the sample: the amount of transmitted light will typically be related to the concentration of the molecule of interest.
A drug that binds to and activates a receptor. Can be full, partial or inverse. A full agonist has high efficacy, producing a full response while occupying a relatively low proportion of receptors. A partial agonist has lower efficacy than a full agonist. It produces sub-maximal activation even when occupying the total receptor population, therefore cannot produce the maximal response, irrespective of the concentration applied. An inverse agonist produces an effect opposite to that of an agonist, yet binds to the same receptor binding-site as an agonist.
A drug that binds to a receptor at a site distinct from the active site. Induces a conformational change in the receptor, which alters the affinity of the receptor for the endogenous ligand. Positive allosteric modulators increase the affinity, whilst negative allosteric modulators decrease the affinity.
A drug that attenuates the effect of an agonist. Can be competitive or non-competitive, each of which can be reversible or irreversible. A competitive antagonist binds to the same site as the agonist but does not activate it, thus blocks the agonist's action. A non-competitive antagonist binds to an allosteric (non-agonist) site on the receptor to prevent activation of the receptor. A reversible antagonist binds non-covalently to the receptor, therefore can be "washed out". An irreversible antagonist binds covalently to the receptor and cannot be displaced by either competing ligands or washing.
An albino strain of laboratory mouse from which a number of common substrains are derived. BALB/c substrains are "particularly well known for the production of plasmacytomas on injection with mineral oil," an important process for the production of monoclonal antibodies. They are also reported as having a "low mammary tumour incidence, but do develop other types of cancers in later life, most commonly reticular neoplasms, lung tumours, and renal tumours.
The maximum amount of drug or radioligand, usually expressed as picomoles (pM) per mg protein, which can bind specifically to the receptors in a membrane preparation. Can be used to measure the density of the receptor site in a particular preparation.
C57BL/6 often referred to as "C57 black 6" or just "black 6" is a common inbred strain of lab mouse. Dark brown, nearly black, coat. Easily irritable temperament. They have a tendency to bite. The immune response of mice from the C57BL/6 strain distinguish it from other inbred strains like BALB/c.