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a chemical substance that selectively inhibits the activity of an enzyme or a group of related enzymes. Even in very low concentrations, enzyme inhibitors repress an organism’s vital physiological functions. Many toxic substances, including pesticides, such nerve gases as lewisite, and such respiratory toxins as cyanides and hydrogen sulfide, have a toxic effect owing to the inhibition of enzymes, for example, the enzyme cholinesterase in arthropods.
The study of the effect of enzyme inhibitors on enzymes or groups of enzymes facilitates the search for antidotes or for new pesticides to control harmful insects, mites and ticks, and weeds. The term “enzyme inhibitors” sometimes refers to enzymes in the poisons of snakes, bees, and scorpions that destroy tissues or blood cells in man and animals.