14 November 2016
In this paper we describe an easy, reliable, versatile and inexpensive laboratory experiment to teach the metabolic transformation of hydrolysis to Pharmacy students. The experiment does not require the sacrifice of any experimental animal, or any work with organs or tissues, and so can be implemented in a typical university chemistry laboratory. We used acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), hexyl salicylate (HS) and two enzymes, a lipase and an esterase. Since both ASS and HS liberate salicylic acid (SA) upon hydrolysis, students can evaluate the different enzymatic transformations by monitoring the amount of SA liberated. The learning outcomes are an enhanced student understanding of: (1) the process of hydrolysis; (2) the application of enzymatic transformations of molecules from food to xenobiotics; (3) the differences between the general specificity of substrate of both enzymes; (4) the concepts of the lipophilic pocket; (5) the catalytic triad and its regioselectivity in relation to the ester bond. A questionnaire was administered to participating students at three points in time: at the beginning of the module, after enzymatic hydrolysis was taught in class, and after the laboratory experiment. From an analysis of the questionnaire data we conclude that this practical helped Pharmacy students to understand these concepts.