One Headache After Another: Biochemistry Edition
Department of Chemistry
Department of Biology
Topamax®, developed to treat epilepsy, is also used as a preventative for migraine. In this case study, students read about a woman experiencing a side-effect of Topamax and from there move to a review of acid-base balance in the human body. The case study questions force the students to think about basic concepts related to buffers, pH, and equilibria, and challenge them to make specific connections. The case has two versions: one for chemists/biochemists and a second for physiologists. This is the biochemistry version. Both versions cover acid-base balance to a similar extent, with the physiology version (titled "One Headache After Another: Physiology Edition") covering more of the factors involved with metabolic acidosis and exercise physiology. Both versions are geared to upper-level undergraduates.
- Recall and use buffer system definitions, Henderson Hasselbalch equation, and titration curves, in reference to carbonic acid and bicarbonate.
- Use Hess's law to adjust the pKa of carbonic acid.
KeywordspH; buffer; acid/base; LeChatlier principle; metabolic acidosis; physiological regulation of pH; carbonic anhydrase; Henderson Hasselbalch equation; Hess's Law; titration curves; topiramate; Topamax; respiratory system; renal system; kidneys
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDirected, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiochemistry | Chemistry (General) | Biology (General) | Medicine (General) |