Discussion: Foundational Neuroscience Essay

Explain the agonist-to-antagonist spectrum of action of psychopharmacologic agents.

Compare and contrast the actions of g couple proteins and ion gated channels.
Explain the role of epigenetics in pharmacologic action.
Explain how this information may impact the way you prescribe medications to clients. Include a specific example of a situation or case with a client in which the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner must be aware of the medication’s action Discussion: Foundational Neuroscience Essay.
The agonist-antagonist interaction is an important facet of a drug action in pharmacology. According to studies, the agonist-antagonist spectrum works in opposite ways. An antagonist works by activating the receptors of the psychopharmacological agents fully. By binding to these receptors, agonists produce a complete functional response to the psychopharmacological agent. During its mode of action, the agonists can produce full, partial, or inverse functional responses (Stahl, 2013). On the other hand, antagonists work by reversing the impacts of agonist agents. Antagonism occurs in two ways including competitive and non-competitive antagonism. With regard to the competitive antagonist, the effect can be reversed by increasing the agonist dose. Given that both the agonist and the antagonist bind to the same site, the dose-response curve is moved to the right of the curve. However, even as the shift occurs, the maximum response obtained will remain the same. On the other hand, the noncompetitive antagonist’s action cannot be reversed by increasing the dose of the agonist. The phenomenon occurs since the receptor binding sites of the two are disparate, implying that the agonist will not displace the antagonist molecule.


Further, g couple proteins and ion gated channels are important messengers in the system. G couple protein is a GTP-binding protein, which is responsible for relaying signals from a signal receptor found on the plasma membrane. This receptor is called G-protein coupled receptor and it transduces the signal to the other side of the cell proteins. Conversely, the ion gated channel opens and closes thus permitting certain ions to go through the receptor channels (Ehlert, 2015). Thus, the ion gated channels is a protein pore within cell membranes that closes or opens in response to a ligand- a signaling chemical-, which then allows or closes the passage of specific ions. Impor5tantly though, both kinds of receptors have their ligands remaining outside the cells even as the signal transduction occurs. Nevertheless, while the ligand gated ion channel allows transport of ions into the cell across its membrane, the g coupled proteins only change their shapes to facilitate a molecule that initiates the signaling process.

Latest advances in understanding the gene regulation process have revealed that the gene undergoes a substantial regulation that initially considered, via epigenetic regulation. The epigenetic mechanism systems have evolved to either fine-tune or switch off the genetic activation (Jangra et al., 2016). Further, the epigenetic regulation of gene activity has been demonstrated to possess important role in maintaining the phenotypic activity of cells, in addition to playing a role in the advancement of cancers and Alzheimer’s. However, the disease conditions are countered by newer classes of drugs, which regulate epigenetic mechanisms. In other words, epigenetics plays a significant role in the regulation of dug transporters and drug-metabolizing enzymes Discussion: Foundational Neuroscience Essay.

The above information is certainly important in the prescription of drugs in a psychiatric unit. Given that the psychotropic drugs work by altering the way that neurotransmitters send messages across the synapses, the phenomena addressed above are significant. Specifically, in a case wherein the psychiatric condition is accompanied by psychosis, it becomes fundamentally important for the psychiatric nurse to understand the mechanism of action of psychotic drugs (Sheifes et al., 2016). In this case, the mental health nurse practitioner needs to understand the exact target of the psychotic drug. Moreover, the nurse needs to decipher the mechanisms of action of antipsychotics-whether second-generation or atypical- so as to effectively decide the prescription.


Ehlert, F. J. (2015). Affinity and efficacy: The components of drug-receptor interactions. Hackensack, NJ : World Scientific.

Jangra, A., Sriram, C. S., Pandey, S., Choubey, P., Rajput, P., Saroha, B., & … Lahkar, M. (2016). Epigenetic Modifications, Alcoholic Brain and Potential Drug Targets. Annals Of Neurosciences, 23(4), 246-260. doi:10.1159/000449486

Scheifes, A., Egberts, T. G., Stolker, J. J., Nijman, H. I., & Heerdink, E. R. (2016). Structured Medication Review to Improve Pharmacotherapy in People with Intellectual Disability and Behavioural Problems. Journal Of Applied Research In Intellectual Disabilities, 29(4), 346-355.

Stahl, S. M. (2013). Stahl’s essential psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific basis and practical applications (4th ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press Discussion: Foundational Neuroscience Essay.

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