Biological half-life

Biological Half-Life

Biological half-life

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The biological half-life or elimination half-life of a substance is the time it takes for a substance (for example a metabolite, drug, signalling molecule, radioactive nuclide, or other substance) to lose half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiologic activity, as per the MeSH definition. In a medical context, half-life may also describe the time it takes for the blood plasma concentration of a substance to halve ("plasma half-life") its steady-state. The relationship between the biological and plasma half-lives of a substance can be complex depending on the substance in question, due to factors including accumulation in tissues, active metabolites, and receptor interactions.

Biological half-life is an important pharmacokinetic parameter and is usually denoted by the abbreviation t<sub>½</sub>.

While a radioactive isotope decays perfectly according to first order kinetics where the rate constant is fixed, the elimination of a substance from a living organism, into the environment, follows more complex kinetics. See the article rate equation.

Examples of biological half-lives

Water

The biological half-life of water in a human is about 7 to 14 days. It can be altered by behavior. Drinking large amounts of alcohol will reduce the biological half-life of water in the body<ref...
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