In medicine and pharmacology, a trough level or trough concentration is the lowest level (concentration) at which a medication is present in the body. The name comes from the idea that on a graph of concentration versus time, the line forms a U-shaped trough at the lowest region, before a new dose sends it higher again. The usual criterion is concentration in the blood serum, although in some instances local concentration within tissues is relevant. It is pharmacokinetically normal that with every passing minute and hour, the drug molecules are being metabolized or cleared by the body, so the concentration of drug that remains available is dropping. In a medicine that is administered periodically, the trough level should be measured just before the administration of the next dose in order to avoid overdosing. A trough level is contrasted with a "peak level", which is the highest level of the medicine in the body, and the "average level", which is the mean level over time. It helps in therapeutic drug monitoring. It is widely used in clinical trials for newer medicines for its therapeutic effectiveness and safety.
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