Different methods for studying the concurrent effects of two linear inhibitors on a single enzyme have been published, including the fractional product of Webb, the Yonetani-Theorell plot or the method of Chou and Talalay. Recently the use of combination plots has also been advocated for this purpose. We have evaluated the applicability of these methods and found that most of them depend on assumptions about the mechanism of action of the inhibitors. If the mechanism of action is not completely understood, or if some assumptions about the mechanism are unfounded, the parameters obtained may be meaningless. Even if these assumptions are correct, the interaction can be advantageously measured using an alternative representation that does not require a knowledge of the inhibition constants and allows experimental data to be retrieved from the plot. In other cases it is the interpretation of the results rather than the validity of the method that is misleading. A common mistake is to take the exclusivity of the effects of two inhibitors as exclusivity of their binding. We show that this assumption is seldom justified. In any case, it is possible to decide whether the combination of two or more inhibitors is more effective than their individual use by means of isobolographic analysis, even when no information about their mechanism of action is available.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.