MCAT Biology : Other Reactions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for MCAT Biology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #22 : Reactions

Carbonic anhydrase is a very important enzyme that is utilized by the body. The enzyme catalyzes the following reaction:

A class of drugs that inhibits this enzyme is carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (eg. acetazolamide, brinzolamide, dorzolamide). These drugs are commonly prescribed in patients with glaucoma, hypertension, heart failure, high altitude sickness and for the treatment of basic drugs overdose.   

In patients with hypertension, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors will prevent the reabsorption of sodium chloride  in the proximal tubule of the kidney. When sodium is reabsorbed back into the blood, the molecule creates an electrical force. This electrical force then pulls water along with it into the blood. As more water enters the blood, the blood volume increase. By preventing the reabsorption of sodium, water reabsorption is reduced and the blood pressure decreases. 

When mountain climbing, the atmospheric pressure is lowered as the altitude increases. As a result of less oxygen into the lungs, ventilation increases. From the equation above, hyperventilation will result in more  being expired. Based on Le Chatelier’s principle, the reaction will shift to the left. Since there is more bicarbonate than protons in the body, the blood will become more basic (respiratory alkalosis). To prevent such life threatening result, one would take a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor to prevent the reaction from shifting to the left.  

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are useful in patients with a drug overdose that is acidic. The lumen of the collecting tubule is nonpolar. Due to the lumen's characteristic, molecules that are also nonpolar and uncharged are able to cross the membrane and re-enter the circulatory system. Since carbonic anhydrase inhibitors alkalize the urine, acidic molecules stay in a charged state.

Based on the passage, which of the following statements, if true, will contradict the effectiveness of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors as a treatment? 

Possible Answers:

Basic Molecules will not release its proton in the basic environment of the lumen of the collecting tubule.  

Acidic molecules will not release its proton in the basic environment of the lumen of the collecting tubule

Acidic molecules have a better ability to cross the membrane than basic molecules 

Acidic molecules will release its proton in the basic environment of the lumen of the collecting tubule

Basic molecules will release its proton in the basic environment of the lumen of the collecting tubule

Correct answer:

Acidic molecules will not release its proton in the basic environment of the lumen of the collecting tubule

Explanation:

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are used to alkalinize the urine. When the urine is alkalinized, acidic molecules will lose its proton and go into a charged state. Charged molecules are unable to cross the membrane of the lumen of the collecting tubule. Without the ability to cross the membrane, the molecule is therefore unable to be reabsorbed. Therefore, if the statement "Acidic molecules will not release its proton in the basic environment of the lumen of the collecting tubule" was true, then alkalinizing the urine will have no effect.  

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