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Pharmacology Guide


The Pharmacology Guide is a quick reference guide to most of the important terms and concepts of pharmacology. It is not a substitute for standard textbooks, but it will act as an aide-memoire for the student who encounters the terms in the scientific literature or in exam revision. It will also help pharmacologists just starting a career in research.

The guide covers in vitro and in vivo pharmacology, receptor binding and some molecular biological terms which increasingly appear in pharmacological papers. Not all the terms are standard for the whole scientific community. We have selected definitions which reflect the views of a number of authorities in the academic world and within Glaxo Wellcome. Some definitions are currently being considered by an expert international committee under the auspices of IUPHAR (International Union of Pharmacology). The catalogue of receptor subtypes is also somewhat selective, in that molecular biology has produced evidence for many receptors which as yet have no established functional role. We have included as many of the best-established subtypes as space allowed.

The guide was compiled by Dr Michael Sheehan and Dr Peter Elliott of the Receptor Pharmacology unit at Glaxo Wellcome, with help from many others in the Pharmacology Division. We would also like to acknowledge the help of authorities in university departments throughout the country who gave invaluable advice and comments.

This guide is above all meant to be useful, and we would welcome any suggestions for making it more so. If you have any comments regarding anything that should be included or excluded in any future edition, or if there are any mistakes which have escaped proof-reading, please contact Dr Michael Sheehan (

Please note that your browser may not display superscripts and subscripts. Where relevant, these have been marked using brackets. Also, if your browser does not support textual tables, gif images of all the tables have been included.


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