Pharmacodynamics is the study of the biochemical and

  • Dr. David W. A. Bourne, OU College of Pharmacy Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Resources.
  • Werner, E., In silico multicellular systems biology and minimal genomes, DDT vol 8, no 24, pp 1121–1127, Dec 2003. (Introduces the concepts MCPD and Net-MCPD)
  • Vijay. (2003) Predictive software for drug design and development. Pharmaceutical Development and Regulation 1 ((3)), 159-168.

External links

  1. ^ Lees P, Cunningham FM, Elliott J (2004). "Principles of pharmacodynamics and their applications in veterinary pharmacology". J. Vet. Pharmacol. Ther. 27 (6): 397–414.  
  2. ^ Carruthers SG (February 1980). "Duration of drug action". Am. Fam. Physician 21 (2): 119–26.  
  3. ^ Vauquelin G, Charlton SJ (October 2010). "Long-lasting target binding and rebinding as mechanisms to prolong in vivo drug action". Br. J. Pharmacol. 161 (3): 488–508.  
  4. ^ Ruffolo RR Jr (December 1982). "Review important concepts of receptor theory". J. Auton. Pharmacol. 2 (4): 277–295.  
  5. ^ Dhalla AK, Shryock JC, Shreeniwas R, Belardinelli L (2003). "Pharmacology and therapeutic applications of A1 adenosine receptor ligands". Curr. Top. Med. Chem. 3 (4): 369–385.  
  6. ^ Gesztelyi R, Kiss Z, Wachal Z, Juhasz B, Bombicz M, Csepanyi E, Pak K, Zsuga J, Papp C, Galajda Z, Branzaniuc K, Porszasz R, Szentmiklosi AJ, Tosaki A (2013). "The surmountable effect of FSCPX, an irreversible A(1) adenosine receptor antagonist, on the negative inotropic action of A(1) adenosine receptor full agonists in isolated guinea pig left atria". Arch. Pharm. Res. 36 (3): 293–305.  


See also

Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics are termed toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics in the field of ecotoxicology. Here, the focus is on toxic effects on a wide range of organisms. The corresponding models are called toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic models (more details can be found at


The concept of pharmacodynamics has been expanded to include Multicellular Pharmacodynamics (MCPD). MCPD is the study of the static and dynamic properties and relationships between a set of drugs and a dynamic and diverse multicellular four-dimensional organization. It is the study of the workings of a drug on a minimal multicellular system (mMCS), both in vivo and in silico. Networked Multicellular Pharmacodynamics (Net-MCPD) further extends the concept of MCPD to model regulatory genomic networks together with signal transduction pathways, as part of a complex of interacting components in the cell.

Multicellular pharmacodynamics

The graph shown represents the conc-response for two hypothetical receptor agonists, plotted in a semi-log fashion. The curve toward the left represents a higher potency (potency arrow does not indicate direction of increase) since lower concentrations are needed for a given response. The effect increases as a function of concentration.

Often the response is determined as a function of log[L] to consider many orders of magnitude of concentration. However, there is no biological or physical theory which relates effects to the log of concentration. It is just convenient for graphing purposes. It is useful to note that 50% of the receptors are bound when [L]=Kd .

The simplest interpretation of receptor reserve is that it is a model that states there are excess receptors on the cell surface than what is necessary for full effect. Taking a more sophisticated approach, receptor reserve is an integrative measure of the response-inducing capacity of an agonist (in some receptor models it is termed intrinsic efficacy or intrinsic activity) and of the signal amplification capacity of the corresponding receptor (and its downstream signaling pathways). Thus, the existence (and magnitude) of receptor reserve depends on the agonist (efficacy), tissue (signal amplification ability) and measured effect (pathways activated to cause signal amplification). As receptor reserve is very sensitive to agonist’s intrinsic efficacy, it is usually defined only for full (high-efficacy) agonists. [4] [5] [6]

This expression is one way to consider the effect of a drug, in which the response is related to the fraction of bound receptors (see: Hill equation). The fraction of bound receptors is known as occupancy. The relationship between occupancy and pharmacological response is usually non-linear. This explains the so-called receptor reserve phenomenon i.e. the concentration producing 50% occupancy is typically higher than the concentration producing 50% of maximum response. More precisely, receptor reserve refers to a phenomenon whereby stimulation of only a fraction of the whole receptor population apparently elicits the maximal effect achievable in a particular tissue.

Semi-log plots of two agonists with different Kd. The blue curve represents the ligand with greater potency.
Fraction \ Bound = \frac =\frac{1}{1+\frac{K_d}}

where L=ligand, R=receptor, square brackets [] denote concentration. The fraction of bound receptors is

L + R \ \leftrightarrow \ L\! \cdot \!R                      K_d = \frac

The binding of ligands (drug) to receptors is governed by the law of mass action which relates the large-scale status to the rate of numerous molecular processes. The rates of formation and un-formation can be used to determine the equilibrium concentration of bound receptors. The equilibrium dissociation constant is defined by:

Receptor binding and effect

The duration of action of a drug is the length of time that particular drug is effective.[2] Duration of action is a function of several parameters including plasma half-life, the time to equilibrate between plasma and target compartments, and the off rate of the drug from its biological target.[3]

Duration of action

The therapeutic window is the amount of a medication between the amount that gives an effect (effective dose) and the amount that gives more adverse effects than desired effects. For instance, medication with a small pharmaceutical window must be administered with care and control, e.g. by frequently measuring blood concentration of the drug, since it easily loses effects or gives adverse effects.

Therapeutic window

  • Increased probability of cell mutation (carcinogenic activity)
  • A multitude of simultaneous assorted actions which may be deleterious
  • Interaction (additive, multiplicative, or metabolic)
  • Induced physiological damage, or abnormal chronic conditions

Undesirable effects of a drug include:

Undesirable effects

In principle, a pharmacologist would aim for a target plasma concentration of the drug for a desired level of response. In reality, there are many factors affecting this goal. Pharmacokinetic factors determine peak concentrations, and concentrations cannot be maintained with absolute consistency because of metabolic breakdown and excretory clearance. Genetic factors may exist which would alter metabolism or drug action itself, and a patient's immediate status may also affect indicated dosage.

General anesthetics were once thought to work by disordering the neural membranes, thereby altering the Na+ influx. Antacids and chelating agents combine chemically in the body. Enzyme-substrate binding is a way to alter the production or metabolism of key endogenous chemicals, for example aspirin irreversibly inhibits the enzyme prostaglandin synthetase (cyclooxygenase) thereby preventing inflammatory response. Colchicine, a drug for gout, interferes with the function of the structural protein tubulin, while Digitalis, a drug still used in heart failure, inhibits the activity of the carrier molecule, Na-K-ATPase pump. The widest class of drugs act as ligands which bind to receptors which determine cellular effects. Upon drug binding, receptors can elicit their normal action (agonist), blocked action (antagonist), or even action opposite to normal (inverse agonist).

The desired activity of a drug is mainly due to successful targeting of one of the following:

Desired activity

  • stimulating action through direct receptor agonism and downstream effects
  • depressing action through direct receptor agonism and downstream effects (ex.: inverse agonist)
  • blocking/antagonizing action (as with silent antagonists), the drug binds the receptor but does not activate it
  • stabilizing action, the drug seems to act neither as a stimulant or as a depressant (ex.: some drugs possess receptor activity that allows them to stabilize general receptor activation, like buprenorphine in opioid dependent individuals or aripiprazole in schizophrenia, all depending on the dose and the recipient)
  • exchanging/replacing substances or accumulating them to form a reserve (ex.: glycogen storage)
  • direct beneficial chemical reaction as in free radical scavenging
  • direct harmful chemical reaction which might result in damage or destruction of the cells, through induced toxic or lethal damage (cytotoxicity or irritation)

The majority of drugs either
(a) mimic or inhibit normal physiological/biochemical processes or inhibit pathological processes in animals or
(b) inhibit vital processes of endo- or ectoparasites and microbial organisms. There are 7 main drug actions:

Effects on the body


  • Effects on the body 1
    • Desired activity 1.1
    • Undesirable effects 1.2
    • Therapeutic window 1.3
    • Duration of action 1.4
  • Receptor binding and effect 2
  • Multicellular pharmacodynamics 3
  • Toxicodynamics 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

where L=ligand (drug), R=receptor (attachment site), reaction dynamics that can be studied mathematically through tools such as free energy maps. Pharmacodynamics is often summarized as the study of what a drug does to the body, whereas pharmacokinetics is the study of what the body does to a drug. Pharmacodynamics is sometimes abbreviated as "PD", while pharmacokinetics can be referred to as "PK". See PK/PD models.

L + R \ \rightleftharpoons \ L\! \cdot \!R

One dominant example is drug-receptor interactions as modeled by [1]