Disruption of Biochemical Processes in Living Organisms

Disruption of Biochemical Processes in Living Organisms

Disruption of Biochemical Processes

  • Biochemical processes in living organisms depend on the correct functioning of metabolic pathways.
  • Disruption to these pathways can occur due to genetic defects, disease, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices.

Genetic Disruption

  • Genetic defects can disrupt the production and function of enzymes required for specific biochemical reactions.
  • Conditions such as PKU (phenylketonuria) and albinism are caused by the failure of specific enzymes to function correctly.
  • In PKU, the lack of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase leads to a build-up of phenylalanine, potentially causing brain damage.


  • Diseases can also disrupt biochemical processes. For instance, viruses can change metabolic pathways to synthesise their own proteins.
  • Cancerous cells have altered metabolic processes, such as enhanced glycolysis, known as the Warburg effect.

Environmental Factors

  • Exposure to certain chemicals or radiation can disrupt metabolic processes by damaging enzymes or other biochemical components.
  • For example, heavy metals like lead or mercury can interfere with enzyme function.

Lifestyle Choices

  • Lifestyle choices, including diet and drug use, can affect metabolic processes.
  • Consuming high levels of alcohol can cause liver damage, disrupting metabolic processes in the liver.
  • A diet lacking in essential nutrients can cause metabolic disorders, such as scurvy from vitamin C deficiency.

Defences Against Disruption

  • Organisms have various defences against disruptions to their metabolic processes.
  • Enzyme regulation mechanisms can upregulate or downregulate enzyme function in response to changing conditions.
  • Cell repair mechanisms can rectify damage caused by environmental factors such as radiation.

Remember, the disruption of biochemical processes can lead to serious health problems like metabolic disorders, certain genetic conditions, and diseases like cancer. Understanding the basis of these disruptions can help in the development of treatments and preventative measures.