What is Agonist Affinity?
It is very likely that you have never before come across the term agonist affinity. Unless you work or study in the field of biochemistry, you are unlikely to have used or even heard of this term. In order to understand what agonist affinity is all about, we will first have to familiarize with several other terms and concepts that relate to the biochemistry and more so the workings of the body cells. The knowledge of agonist affinity as well as other agonist related fields is mostly applied in the development of medication and drug administration programs as well as the study of diseases. The reasons for this will be clearer by the end of this article.
The cell is the most basic unit of life which is the basis of all life related functions. At the cell level most processes involve chemical reactions that are either internal or externally initiated. One part of the cell that is central to these chemical processes is the receptor which is a protein molecule that embeds in the plasma membrane. The receptor can also be found in the cytoplasm in some cells. The receptor is very important in that cell communication is initiated through these protein molecules. Chemicals that either trigger or diminish reactions attach to the receptors as may be required by the body so as to maintain an internal balance.
Agonists are chemicals that attach to the cell’s receptors in order to cause or inhibit certain reactions from the cell. These agonists that attach to the receptor are sometimes refereed to as agonist receptors. Once this chemical attaches to the receptor, it causes reactions to take place or diminishes those reactions that may already be taking place. There are two types of agonists that are found in the body. The first group comprises of agonists or chemicals that are formed by the body in response to demands by the body. These are known as endogenous agonists and include insulin and neurotransmitters such as adrenalin and dopamine. All these are produced by the body and though we mostly know them for certain functions in the body, they begin working at the cell level in order to bring about the effects that we eventually get. Exogenous agonists are those that are foreign to the body and are introduced to supplement or counter the endogenous agonists.
Different agonists will have different will attach to cell receptors with varying strengths. The measure of how strongly an agonist attaches to the receptor is known as affinity. The agonist affinity of a particular receptor and agonist will be influenced by the efficacy of the agonist. It is important to note that the stronger the binding or attaching between the agonist and the receptor, the more effective the agonist. This is where the knowledge of agonist affinity becomes important when developing medication since knowing how various chemicals will influence the reaction of different receptors helps in deciding what ingredients to use and the required quantities when developing drugs for various diseases and conditions.