Theoretical basis, experimental design, and computerized simulation of synergism and antagonism in drug combination studies

Pharmacological Reviews
Ting-Chao Chou


The median-effect equation derived from the mass-action law principle at equilibrium-steady state via mathematical induction and deduction for different reaction sequences and mechanisms and different types of inhibition has been shown to be the unified theory for the Michaelis-Menten equation, Hill equation, Henderson-Hasselbalch equation, and Scatchard equation. It is shown that dose and effect are interchangeable via defined parameters. This general equation for the single drug effect has been extended to the multiple drug effect equation for n drugs. These equations provide the theoretical basis for the combination index (CI)-isobologram equation that allows quantitative determination of drug interactions, where CI < 1, = 1, and > 1 indicate synergism, additive effect, and antagonism, respectively. Based on these algorithms, computer software has been developed to allow automated simulation of synergism and antagonism at all dose or effect levels. It displays the dose-effect curve, median-effect plot, combination index plot, isobologram, dose-reduction index plot, and polygonogram for in vitro or in vivo studies. This theoretical development, experimental design, and computerized data analysis have facilitated dose-effect a...Continue Reading


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