affinity

The definitions used in this glossary of terminology either have been provided by the authors of the articles, or have been extracted wholly or in part, or paraphrased from the following sources: The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Charles B. Clayman, MD, Medical Editor, Random House, New York, 1989; Biotechnology from A to Z, 2d Edition, William Bains, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; A Dictionary of Genetics, 6th Edition, Robert C. King and William D. Stansfield, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 29th and 30th Editions, W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 2000, 2003; Genes VII, Benjamin Lewin, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2000; The Gale Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders, Volumes I and II, Stacey L. Blachford, Ed., Thomson Learning, New York, New York, 2002; The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 1997; Molecular Biology of the Cell, 3rd Edition, Bruce Alberts, et al., Garland Publishing, 1994; The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Edition, 1966; Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1991.

DEFINITION:

affinity
1. A special attraction for a specific element, organ, or structure.

2. Chemical affinity.

3. In immunology, a thermodynamic expression of the strength of interaction between a single antigen-binding site and a single antigenic determinant (and thus of the stereochemical compatibility between them), most accurately applied to interactions among simple, uniform antigenic determinants such as haptens. Expressed as the association constant (K liters mole-1), which, owing to the heterogeneity of affinities in a population of antibody molecules of a given specificity, actually represents an average value (mean intrinsic association constant).

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