General Pharmacology

Pharmacology basics and definitions – Easy [Part 1]

When you have headache , you take an analgesic OTC like ibuprofen to treat the pain but what is behind the scene !? the process of treating headache ?

The interaction between a chemical like ibuprofen and your body as a living system is the definition of pharmacology. The drug is a chemical substance that interacts with a living system. So,

Pharmacology : The study of the interaction between chemicals and living systems.

Drug : is a chemical substance that interact with a living system to give a response .

The major subdivisions of pharmacology :

1. Pharmacokinetics : that is what is your body do to the drug.

2. Pharmacodynamics : That is what the drug do to your body. ( D Mnemonics :biggrin: )

3. Pharmacotherapeutics : Related to the use of drug to diagnose or treat or prevent the disease.

4. Toxicology : The toxic or undesirable effects of the drug or a chemical substance.

Lets back to the headache story and using OTC ibuprofen to manage your headache :

According to the pharmackinetic definitions , what is happened to the ibuprofen when ingested to treat the headache ? What does your body do to the ibuprofen ?

  • Absorption : it means rate and extent of the drug to move from site of administration.
  • Distribution : when the drug leaves the blood stream and enters between the cells or the cells of the tissues.
  • Biotransformation : The process which include modifying the drug through phase 1 and phase 2 to allow the elimination of the drug from the body. However some drugs “Prodrug” is activated through this process.
  • Excretion : The process by which the drug is removed from your body.

Lets walk through each definition of Pharmacokinetics :w00t:   :

1. Absorption :

As we defined it the rate and extent of the drug to move from the site of administration , so what are the sites of body administration ??

  • Alimentary ( Oral , Buccal ,Sub-lingual & Rectal ).
  • Parenteral ( Intravenous , Intramuscular , Subcutaneous & Intrathecal )
  • Inhalation.
  • Topical.
  • Transdermal.
  • Subcutaneous.

Some drugs has a high rate of absorption some other poorly absorbed , this determined by many factors like : ( Factors affecting the absorption of the drug )

  • Route of administration type : for example Intravenous route is the most effective one (see this toon)
  • Blood flow : As it increase , the absorption rate increases.
  • Surface area : As it increase , the absorption rate increases too.
  • Solubility of the drug :  the hydrophilic part ( water soluble ) to lipophilic part ( lipid soluble ) ratio will determine the rate of absorption. This called Partition Coefficient
  • Drug-Drug interactions : It depends on the types of drugs they may enhance or decrease or inhibit each others.
  • PH : the acidity or alkalinity of the drug may affect its absorption.

After we consider all the previous factors , the portion or the fraction of the drug that reaches its site of action to exert a biological effect for ex: Analgesic effect is called bioavailability.

So if the WHOLE drug reaches to the site of action it means it has 100% bioavailabilty, the only route which give 100% bioavailability is the Intravenous route  😎 as 100% of the drug injected into the blood stream, other routes give less than 100% bioavailability.

Thers is a cases in which > than 90% of the drug doesn’t reach its site of action , thats means it is eliminated or inactivated before reaching its site of action , this called First Pass Metabolism.

First Pass metabolism : Biotransformation occurs to the drug before reaching its site of action , mainly occurs in the liver ex: Nitroglycerin.

2. Distribution :

The process by which the drug leaves the blood stream and enters the tissue. HOW ?

  • Passive diffusion : the drug moves from area of high concentration to the area of low concentration.
  • Active Transport : As it is active you must pay for it ! it is against the concentration gradient and the energy (Payment ) come from the dephosphorylation of ATP.
  • Special carrier transport ( Helper 😆 ) :like passive diffusion but with a carrier like proteins.

So do all drugs distribute to the same extent ? or all organs allows drugs to enter to their cells ?

No , there are factors affecting drug distribution :

  • Blood flow.
  • Capillary permeability : it depends on the organ for example the brain has blood brain barrier which is tight and doesn’t allow big molecules to pass , but the junctions between the cells in liver is wide which allow big molecules to pass.
  • Binding to plasma proteins : like albumin , the higher binding rate , the lower access to the cellular compartments.
  • Drug structure : Small drug molecules with high lipophilic properties is likely to pass easily more than large molecules or water soluble molecules.


UPDATE : Part 2

To be continued …








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