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Are all the

circulatory
systems in animals
'blood circulation
systems' ?
Closed circulatory
systems in animals
are blood circulatio
n systems.
However, the
circulatory fluid in
animals that
have open
circulatory
systems is called
'hemolymph' or
'haemolymph'
rather than 'blood'
because in those
animals there is no
distinction between
the 'blood' and the
'interstitial fluid' in
animals that have
closed circulatory
systems hemolymph being
the combination of
the equivalent of
those fluids.
Hemolymph has
distinctive
characteristics that
differ from blood e.g.
it contains
hemocyanin, a
copper-based
protein that turns
blue when
oxygenated, as
opposed to the ironbased hemoglobin in
vertebrate red blood
cells.
Also, in larger
animals including
humans, blood
circulation is not the
only circulation
system - at least,
blood is not the only
fluid circulating. The
human lymphatic
system includes a
network of lymph
nodes and lymphatic
vessels that contain
a fluid called lymph.
The lymphatic
system - also called
simply the lymph
system, is not a
closed system. (The
2 Types oflymphatic
closed blood
circulation
system is
sometimes
described in
conjunction with the
blood system, or it
may be studied as
part of the immune
system.)

TYPES OF CIRCULATION
The 2 types of circulation
systems in animals are:

Open Circulatory
Systems (Open
Circulation Systems)
e.g. in insects,
where there may be
More about
someClosed
vessels but
Blood Circulation
the circulatory fluid 'hemolymph', also
Systems:
written
All closed'haemolymph'
blood circulatory
flows
out
of
the
systems include 3 essential
vessels that form the
parts
circulatory system
(three components),
and bathes tissues
specifically:
directly. That is,
instead of the blood
capillaries in closed
Blood
circulatory
Blood
Vessels
systems
(see
below), the main
Heart
vessels in open
As statedcirculatory
above, the blood
(a fluid) issystems
contained
within a
open
into
openvessels,
sinuses.
network of
blood
of which
areCirculatory
several
there
Closed
different types
according
Systems
(Closedto
their sizeCirculation
and position
within
Systems
)
the bloode.g.
circulation system.
in perform
vertebrates
In order to
the such
as
fish
and
essential functions ofmamma
blood,
ls, blood is
the blood must move around
contained within
the bloodthe
system.
structure of the
heart and blood
vessels
thataround
have a
Movement
of blood
range
of
sizes
and
the network of blood vessels
structures,
happens because the heart
including arteries, ar
pumps the blood through the
terioles, capillaries,
heart itself
and therefore
venules
and veins.
onwards Larger
throughblood
the closed
vessels
network of
blood
vessels
move
blood
around
the body,
taking
which, together
with
the it
from
organ
to
organ,
blood and the heart, form
the
through
the
blood
closed circulatory blood
system, which is
system.
Common to all
also called
closed circulatory systems
the vascular
However,system.
there areSubstances
different
types of closed
blood
pass between
circulation
systems
and also
the
blood and
the tissuesofit hearts
different structures
supplies
by moving
(blood pumps)
in animals
through
the
with different types ofthin
blood
walls of the smallest
circulation systems.
blood vessels, which
are
called capillaries.

systems:

Single Circulation Systems (Single Blood


Mammals have double
Circulation)
circulatory systems Double Circulation Systems (Double Blood
meaning that blood passes
Circulation)
1.0 Single
Circulatory
System
through
the heart twice
in
order to complete a single
Fish have
single
circulatory
complete
circuit
aroundsystems in which blood
passes
heart
only once each time it
thethrough
whole the
body,
including
completes
a
full
circuit
around
through the lungs and all the fish's body, including
through
itsparts
gills (incl.
and allorgans
other organs and tissues.
other
and tissues) of the body.
circulatory
BloodDouble
flow rate
and blood pressure fall when blood
two is oxygenated as it passes
leavessystems
a fish'sinclude
gills (blood
circuits
of
blood
flowing
through fishes' gills - just
as adult human blood is
to
and
from
the
heart.
oxygenated as it passes through the lungs).
They are:
The low blood pressure in the single circulatory systems
Pulmonary
present
in fish is circulation
insufficientisfor efficient kidney function
the circuit by which blood
in mammals.
flows from the heart to the
lungs, then back to the
heart.
Systemic circulation is the
circuit by which blood
leaves the left ventricle
(LV) of the heart via the
aorta, passes through the
organs and tissues of the
body (except for the
lungs), then returns to the
heart.
Separation of the blood
circulation system into
these two circuits enables
blood at sufficient
velocity (flow rate) and
sufficient (high enough)
blood pressure to
efficiently transport
essential substances to the
cells of active mammals.
This is necessary for the
healthy functioning of
their tissues & organs.
In order to pass all the
way around a double
blood circulatory system
e.g. as in humans, blood
must complete both the
pulmonary circulation and
the systemic circulation
circuits, therefore it passes
through the heart twice.

2.0 Double Circulatory System

The 3 three components


of closed circulatory
systems:

Blood
Blood is the fluid that
moves through the blood
system. It includes many
different particles,
especially
Blood Plasma - consisting
mainly of water
containing solutes such as
electrolytes, plasma
proteins and hormones
Red Blood Cells responsible for
transporting oxygen to
tissues around the body
White Blood Cells - have
important immune
function roles e.g. in
phagocytosis and
production of antibodies
Blood Platelets - blood
platelet plug formed
during blood clotting
(coagulation) in cases of
damaged blood vessels
Blood Vessels
Blood vessels are the
biological "tubes" through
which blood flows. Threy
contain the blood within
the blood system and
ensure that it only flows in
one direction through the
blood system (e.g. due to
sufficient blood pressure
in arteries and due to the
presence of valves in the
main veins of the body).
In order of flow from
leaving the heart to
returning to the heart, the
main types of blood
vessels are: arteries,
arterioles, capillaries,
venules and veins. The
main larger blood vessels
(not all the individual
capillaries, of which there
are too many) have
individual names

What are the differences between single and double circulatory


systems?
The differences between single circulatory systems and double circulatory systems
include:

During one complete cycle of flow through the whole body (blood system),
blood in a double circulatory system passes through the heart twice.
Another way to say this is the blood passes through the heart twice during
each cycle of the circulatory process.
In a double circulatory system there are two circuits for blood passing through
the heart:

Pulmonary Circulation

Deoxygenated blood is pumped from the heart to the lungs, oxygenated blood
returns to the heart from the lungs.

Systemic Circulation

Oxygenated blood is pumped from the heart around the body (including all the
organs). That blood returns to the heart deoxygenated (more accurately
'oxygen poor') because much of the oxygen it contained when it left the heart
has been supplied to tissues in the body.

In animals that have double circulation (blood circulation) systems, the animal's heart
has more than two chambers, e.g.
Fish
Frogs, Lizards
Mammals, Birds

Single Circulation
Double Circulation
Double Circulation

Two-chambered heart
Three-chambered heart
Four-chambered heart

The pressure of blood flowing through a double circulation system can be


higher than that flowing through a single circulatory system because in the
case of double circulation the blood is pressurized twice per cycle around the
whole blood system. (However, the blood pressure in a double circulatory
system isn't twice that in a single circulatory system - it is not that simple
because blood pressure in different parts of the heart varies according to the
cardiac cycle and blood pressure around the body also varies e.g. according to
the type and location of the blood vessel, and with the general state of health
of the person or animal.)
The blood is pumped around the body after it has returned to the heart from
the lungs. This is beneficial because blood pressure and flow rate is reduced as
it passes through the lungs so if the blood wasn't returned to the heart and

pumped onwards it would continue to the tissues of the body at much lower
pressure and flow rate than it does in double circulation systems.

The separation of oxygenated (more accurately "oxygen-rich") and


deoxygenated (more accurately "oxygen-poor") blood is possible in the cases
of double circulation systems that include a 'double pump', i.e. a four chamber,
heart.
See for example the diagram of a human heart at the top of this page, which
shows the separation of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood within a human
heart. Specifically, it illustrates:
Oxygen-poor blood, which is often called deoxygenated blood - entering the
right atrium of the heart via the inferior vena cava and the superior vena cava
then leaving the right ventricle of the heart via the pulmonary artery shown in
blue with blue arrows.
Oxygen-rich blood, which is often called oxygenated blood or 'reoxygenated
blood' - entering the left atrium of the heart via the pulmonary veins then
leaving the left ventricle of the heart via the aorta shown in pale red with red
arrows.

Advantages of double circulation over single circulation systems

Single circulation systems are adequate for many species e.g. different types of
fish.
Double circulation is advantageous for mammals because it increases the
pressure and hence the flow rate of blood supplied to the tissues of the body
via the systemic circulation.

How?
Double circulation systems deliver greater blood flow rate to tissues around the body
because the heart pumps the (oxygenated or 'oxygen-rich') blood returned to it from
the lungs. This is useful because when blood passes through the lungs its pressure is
reduced. Therefore if it were not returned to the heart then pumped out again (at
higher pressure than the pressure at which it reached the heart from the lungs), it
would pass onwards around the body much more slowly.
Why does this matter?

Some mammals are very large animals. Sufficient blood pressure to send
blood from the heart then eventually back to the heart is needed. The
necessary blood pressure is higher in larger animals in which the blood must
be pumped from the heart with enough force to send the blood considerable
distances around the body before it arrives back at the heart.

Animals that have double circulation systems need blood to be supplied to


their tissues quickly due to their relatively high metabolic rates i.e. rates of
energy used in the chemical reactions within their bodies (compared with e.g.
fish). This necessitates sufficient blood flow because the transport functions of
blood include supplying the tissues with the chemical substances needed to
continue activities including the essential chemical reactions.
Animals that have double circulation systems also need to maintain relatively
high body temperatures - which requires sufficient blood flow due to the
blood's role in maintaining body temperature as necessary for homeostasis.

The Structure and Functions of Blood


Note: The structure and function of the heart and other aspects of the vascular system
is part of training in therapies such as massage incl. Indian Head Massage, Swedish
Massage, acupressure massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, shiatsu, and others. This
page is intended to include information suitable for most basic (first level) courses in
these therapies, and some ITEC Diplomas.
This page is divided into the following sections:
1. The Functions of Blood
(generally - as opposed to the functions of particular components of blood).
2. The Composition of Blood
(incl. the different types of blood cells and their properties and functions).
3. Process of Oxygenation of Tissues due to Circulation of Blood
4. Types of Leucocytes (White Blood Cells)
1. Functions of Blood
1. Transports
Dissolved gases (e.g. oxygen, carbon dioxide)
Waste products of metabolism (e.g. water, urea)
Hormones
Enzymes
Nutrients (such as glucose, amino acids, micro-nutrients
(vitamins & minerals), fatty acids, glycerol)
o Plasma proteins (associated with defence, such as blood-clotting and
anti-bodies)
o Blood cells (incl. white blood cells 'leucocytes', and red blood cells
'erythrocytes').
o
o
o
o
o

2. Maintains Body Temperature


3. Controls pH
The pH of blood must remain in the range 6.8 to 7.4, otherwise it begins to
damage cells.
4. Removes toxins from the body
The kidneys filter all of the blood in the body (approx. 8 pints), 36 times
every 24 hours. Toxins removed from the blood by the kidneys leave the
body in the urine.
(Toxins also leave the body in the form of sweat.)
5. Regulation of Body Fluid Electrolytes
Excess salt is removed from the body in urine, which may contain around

10g salt per day


(such as in the cases of people on western diets containing more salt than the
body requires).

2. Composition of Blood
Blood consists of many components (constituents).
These include:
55% Plasma
45% Components (sometimes called "formed elements"), i.e. 'Blood Cells'. Of
these,
99% are erythrocytes (red blood cells)
and 1% are leucocytes (white blood cells) and thrombocytes (blood platelets)
This is summarised in the following diagram, and described in further detail below.

The summary chart above includes: erythrocytes (red blood


cells), thrombocytes (blood platelets) and leucocytes (white blood cells). It also
includes categories of leucocytes: agranulocytes and granulocytes (also known
as polymorphonucleocytes), which may also be sub-divided
into lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils,neutrophils and eosinophils.
The following table includes further general information about the constituents of
blood.

Structure

Plasma

Normal blood plasma is 90-92 % water.


This is the straw-coloured fluid in which
the blood cells are suspended, and
consists of:

Erythrocyte

Blood plasma proteins (albumin,


globulin, fibrinogen)

Hormones

Immature erythrocytes have a


nucleus but mature erythrocytes
have no nucleus.

Erythrocytes have a "prosthetic


group" (meaning "in addition to" in this case, in addition to the
cell). The active component of this

s
(Red
blood
cells)

Dissolved substances including


electrolytes such as sodium,
chlorine, potassiun, manganese,
and calcium ions

Functions

The medium in which


the blood cells are
transported around
the body (by
the blood vessels) and
are able to operate
effectively.

Helps to maintain
optimum body
temperature
throughout the
organism.

Helps to control the


pH of the blood and
the body tissues,
maintaining this
within a range at
which the cells can
thrive.

Helps to maintain an
ideal balance of
electrolytes in the
blood and tissues of
the body.

Carry oxygen
(process described in
more detail - below).

prosthetic group is Haem.


Haem relies on the presence of
iron (Fe).
Haem combines with oxygen to
form
oxyhaemoglobin:

... continued in section


below

Leucocytes
(White
blood
cells)

Trombocyte

Erythrocytes are eventually


broken down by the spleen into
the blood pigments bilinubin and
bilviridin, and iron. These
components are then transported
by the blood to the liver where the
iron is re-cycled for use by new
erythrocytes, and the blood
pigments form bile salts. (Bile
breaks down fats.)

Have a longevity of approx. 120


days.

There are approx. 4.5 - 5.8 million


erythrocytes per micro-litre of
healthy blood (though there are
variations between racial groups
and men/women).

There are different types of


leucocytes (described in more
detail - below), classified as:

Major part of the


immune system.

To facilitate blood
clotting - the purpose

o Granular: e.g. Neutrophils,


Eosinophils, Basophils.
o Agranular (do not contain
granules): e.g. Monocytes,
Lymphocytes.

Have a longevity of a few hours to


a few days (but some can remain
for many years).

There are approx. 5,000 - 10,000


leucocytes per micro-litre of
blood.

Blood platelets are cell fragments


Approx disk-shaped fragments

s
(Platelets)

Diameter 2-4 um
(1 micro-metre = 1 um =
0.000001m)
Have many granules but no
nucleus
Have a longevity of approx. 5-9
days
There are approx. 150,000 400,000 platelets per micro-litre of
blood

of which is to prevent
loss of body fluids.

3. The Oxygenation of Blood


The oxygenation of blood is the function of the erythrocytes (red blood cells) and
takes place in the lungs.
The sequence of events of the blood becoming oxygenated (in the lungs) then
oxygenating the tissues (in the body) is as follows:

The Right Ventricle (of the heart) sends de-oxygenated blood to the lungs.

While in the lungs:


1. Carbon Dioxide diffuses out of the blood into the lungs, and
2. Oxygen (breathed into the lungs) combines with haemoglobin in the blood
as it passes through the lung capillaries.

Oxyhaemoglobin returns to the heart via the pulmonary vein and then enters
the systemic circulation via the aorta.

There is a low concentration of oxygen in the body tissues. They also contain
waste products of the metabolism (such as carbon dioxide).

Due to the high concentration of oxygen in the blood and the low
concentration of oxygen in the tissues,

... the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the tissues diffuses into the
blood. (95% of this carbon dioxide dissolves in the blood plasma.)

Blood returns from the tissues back to the heart via the superior vena cava
(from the upper-body) and the inferior vena cava (from the lower-body)

4. Types of Leucocytes (White Blood Cells)

Lymphocytes: Monocytes:

*Basophils:

*Neutrophils: *Eosinophils:

Lymphocytes:
Approx.
24%"antigen"
Approx.
The term
is 4%
sometimes 0.5-1%
loosely of
used to 60-70% of
of leucocytes
of
leucocytes
leucocytes
areand leucocytes are
refer to something that is not naturally present
are'should not beare
basophils.
neutrophils.
in the body'. However,
in
lymphocytes.
monoocytes.
Diameter
8-10
immunology, an antigen is defined as a substance Diameter 10-12
These
These
are alsoof onemicro-metres.
micro-metres.
thatproduce
evokes the
production
or more
anti-bodies
known
antibodies. That
is a as
better description, especially
andconsidering
include: the
phagocytes.
Liberate
importance of antigens
re. blood Phagocytosis.
* groups.
T-Cells
They combat
heparin,
Destruction of
* B-Cells
microbes by
histamine, and bacteria with
* Natural
the process of
seratonin in
lysozyme and
Killer
Cells
phagocytosis.
allergic
T Cells (lymphocytes) are activated by the thymus strong oxidants.
Phagocytosis:
reactions,
gland.
intensifying
inflammatory
response.
B Cells (lymphocytes) are activated
by other
A lymphoid
phagocytetissue.
is a cell
able
to
engulf
and marrow'
The 'B' indicates 'bone
digest
cells.bacteria, protozoa, cells, cell
debris, and other small particles.
Phagocytes include many leucocytes
(white
and macrophages Bothblood
T-cellscells)
and B-cells:
which
play
a
major
roleand
in the body's
(1) destroy antigens,
defence
system.
(2) produce
'memory cells' and anti-bodies.
Basophils:
Phagocytosis is the engulfment and
digestion
of bacteria
andthan
other
anigens
by
An increased
(higher
usual)
percentage
of
phagocytes.
basophils in the blood may indicate an
inflammatory condition somewhere in the body.
This is illustrated below.
Neutrophils & Monocytes:
Neutrophils are the first leucocytes to respond to
bacterial invasion of the body. They act by carrying
out the process of phagocytosis (see opposite), and
also be releasing enzymes - such as lysozyme, that
destroy certain bacteria.
Monocytes take longer to reach the site of infection
than neutrophils - but they eventually arrive in
much larger numbers. Monocytes that migrate into
infected tissues develop into cells called wandering
macrophages that can phagocytize many more
microbes than neutrophils are able to.
Monocytes also clear up cellular debris after an
infection.
Eosinophils:
An increased (higher than usual) percentage of
eosinophils in the blood may indicate parasitic
infection somewhere in the body.

2-4% of
leucocytes are
eosinophils.
Diameter 1012 micrometres.
Combat the
effects of
histamine in
allergic
reactions;
Phagocytize
antigenantibody
complexes;
Destroy some
parasitic
worms.

Structure and Functions of Lymphatic Tissue (Lymph)


Note: This page is part of the section about the structure and function of
different Tissue Types, which is related to the section about Histology and
Cells(incl. structure of animal cells, cell division, mitosis, meiosis). This "Tissue
Types" section is included to complete description of the knowledge of "Histology The Cell" required by some courses in First-Level Anatomy and Physiology. To read
about other tissue types see the list of on the left.

1.0 Introduction to Lymphatic Tissues:


What is the Lymphatic System ?
The Lymphatic System is one of the two systems of circulation of fluid around the
body (the other being blood circulation).
The lymphatic system consists of lymphatic fluid (called "lymph") flowing through a
system of lymphatic vessels, including lymphatic capillaries, other lymphatic
vessels of various sizes (which can be compared with blood vessels), and lymph
nodes (which are encapsulated masses of B Cells and T Cells).
The Blood System and the Lymphatic System are interconnected. The clear fluid
that is known as "lymph" when flowing through the lympatic vessels, initially passes
into those vessels as "interstitial fluid" contained in spaces between tissue cells spaces into which it had been filtered from blood. Ultimately, after travelling through
lymphatic vessels, the same lymph passes back into the blood system - at the
junctions of the jugular and subclavian veins (on both the right- and left- sides of the
body).
2.0 The tissues that form the Lymphatic System
Several different types of tissues form the structures of the lymphatic system.
They are listed according to the parts of of the lymphatic system that they form:
(a) Primary Lymphatic Organs

The locations at which stem cells divide and mature into B Cells and T Cells:

Red Bone Marrow -

The Thymus - This is a two-lobed organ located in the chest. The tissue of the
thymus itself consists of T cells, macrophages and epithelial cells. Each lobe is
encapsulated by a layer of connective tissue.

(b) Secondary Lymphatic Organs and Tissues


The locations at which most immune responses occur:

Lymph Nodes - These are small bean-shaped organs located throughout the
body and consisting of B cells that develop into plasma cells - which secrete
antibodies, T cells, and macrophages. Each node is covered by a capsule
of dense connective tissue.

The Spleen - This is the largest single mass of lymphatic tissue in the human
body.
The outer covering of the spleen is formed by dense connective tissue.
The spleen itself consists of two types of tissue, called white pulp and red
pulp.
o White Pulp: lymphatic tissue that consists mostly of lymphoctes and
macrophages.
o Red Pulp: Blood-filled sinuses and cords of splenic tissues that consists
of lymphocytes, macrophages, erythrocytes, granulocytes, and plasma
cells.

Lymphatic Nodules - Lymphatic Nodules differ from Lymph Nodes in


that lymphatic nodules are notsurrounded by capsules (of dense connective
tissue). They are also known as mucosa-associated lymphatic tissue
(MALT).

(c) Lymph (Fluid)


The fluid "lymph" can be described as a tissue in its own right - in the same way as
the fluid "blood" can be described as "blood tissue". Lymph is a clear fluid that is
similar to plasma but contains less protein. It flows through lymphatic vessels
throughout the body and includes chemicals and cells whose composition varies
according to location within the body.
Despite being a fluid, lymph is classified as a connective tissue.

3.0 Where in the body are the lymphatic tissues ?


As explained above, there are lymphatic tissues throughout the body.

However, the structure of lymphatic tissues vary according to the particular type of
lymphatic tissue or organ they form a part of - (a), (b) or (c) above, and possibly also
it's location in the body - especially in the case of (c) Lymph (Fluid).

4.0 The Structure (Physical Description) of the lymphatic tissues


Lymph is a clear fluid that is similar to (blood) plasma, but contains less protein.

5.0 The Functions of lymphatic tissues


The lymphatic tissues throughout the body operate in conjunction with each other to
perform the functions of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the
body's immune system. The functions of the lymphatic system include:

Draining interstitial fluid.

Transporting dietry lipids.

Protecting the body (organism) against invasion/infection

What is Homeostasis ?
Definition of homeostasis
Homeostasis is the maintenance (via the body's physiological mechanisms) of
relatively stable conditions within the body's internal environment e.g.
conditions such as body temperature, blood pressure, pH, concentrations of
chemicals such as specific hormones in the blood, etc. despite changes occurring
both inside and outside the body e.g. due to eating, exercise, pregnancy,
variations in external conditions, etc..
Short Version: Homeostasis is the body's maintenance via active processes of an
approx. constant internal environment despite external changes.
Aspects of knowledge about homeostasis include:
1. Control of Homeostasis
i.e. How does homeostasis occur ? ...
How does the body maintain stable conditions in its internal environment ? ...
or, (less accurately),
How is homeostasis maintained ?
2. How Feedback Mechanisms act to maintain homeostasis
3. Examples of Homeostasis

4. Homeostasis, Disorders and Diseases


Note: Some definitions state or imply that homeostasis is the stable condition in
which the body is maintained by the action of feedback systems making appropriate
adjustments as necessary. Other definitions* of homeostasis state that homeostasis is
the (active) maintenance of stable conditions within the body.
* E.g. according to the Oxford concise Colour Medical Dictionary, "homeostasis the
physiological process by which the internal systems of the body ... are maintained at
equilibrium, despite variations in the external conditions."

1. How does the body control Homeostasis ?


Short Answer: Feedback Mechanisms (see 2. below).
The following are notes about the body systems involved.
All the body's structures are kept in balance by one or more homeostatic mechanisms.
The body's homeostatic mechanisms are controlled mainly by the Nervous System,
and the Endocrine System. The role of parts of these and other tissues varies
according to the specific homeostatic mechanism. However, in general:

Structures within the nervous system detect variation from the balanced state,
i.e. parameters such as heat or pH being within the range of acceptable values,
and communicate that information by sending signals in the form of nerve
impulsesto the glands, organs or tissues in the body responsible for taking
action to restore the balanced state.

In many cases the glands of the endocrine system (endocrine glands) take
action to restore the body (or a part or system thereof) to a balanced state by
producing and/or secreting hormone molecules into the blood. This controls
homeostasisbecause hormones are chemicals that can move around the body
and are targeted to interact with specific cells that have receptors matching the
specific hormone. Hormones are described as "chemical messengers" because
by interacting with target cells they stimulate those cells to take specific
action, e.g. antidiuretic hormone (ADH) directs the kidneys (to decrease the
volume of urine they produce), whose overall effect is to maintain the stability
of the body's internal environment, i.e. homeostasis.
As indicated above, the overall (general) process of homeostasis involves the body
detecting some - usually small - variation from the ideal stable, balanced, state. It
requires (unconscious) decisions to be taken about the adjustment(s) necessary and
instructions to be conveyed to the structures of the body responsible for taking
restorative action. Action must be taken to change the out-of-balance condition back
within the acceptable range e.g. range of values of temperature. Throughout and
beyond the process of adjustment, conditions within the body part/area/system must

be continually monitored and any necessary adjustments made to maintain the


stability of that aspect of the body's internal environment.
This is achieved via feedback mechanisms (see below).
A key difference between the contributions of the Nervous System and
the Endocrine System in the feedback systems that control and maintain homeostasis
is that nerve impulses are generally much faster than the effects of the hormones which generally* travel via blood circulation and can remain active in the blood for
much longer periods of time - from minutes up to as much as a few hours in some
cases**.
* Most hormones are circulating hormones, as opposed to local hormones that only
act locally, i.e. on the cell that secreted them or on adjacent cells, without entering the
bloodstream.
** Hormone half-life and duration of activity differ from hormone to hormone. In
general, peptide hormones very short of seconds-minutes, while steroids and thyroid
hormone have longer half-lives of up to an hour or sometimes longer.

2. Explain "Feedback Mechanisms"


The basic principle of the feedback mechanisms (sometimes called "feedback
systems") that maintain homeostasis is that a parameter called a controlled
condition e.g. the concentration in the blood of a specific hormone is monitored
by receptors that send ("input") information to a control centre e.g. the
hypothalamus controls the concentration in the blood of certain hormonesthat
responds by ("output") sending signals e.g. in the form of nerve impulses or chemical
signals to effectors which are the cells or other structures within the body that cause
the controlled condition to change as necessary to bring that particular aspect of the
body back into a steady, stable, balanced state. While this is happening the receptors
continue to send information to the control centre, which than therefore continue to
adjust its output as appropriate to the current state of the controlled condition.
There are two types of feedback mechanisms:

Negative Feedback Systems (Negative feedback mechanisms)


Produce negative feedback which means that negative feedback
systems reverse changes in the controlled condition, hence negative feedback
tends to bring conditions within the body back into balance.

Positive Feedback Systems (Positive feedback mechanisms)


Produce positive feedback so positive feedback systems reinforce
(increase) changes in the controlled condition.

Therefore positive feedback systems operate when an event will occur to


discontinue the feedback system when appropriate - e.g. positive feedback
systems control infrequent conditions such as ovulation, childbirth and blood
clotting.
See hormone regulation feedback mechanisms for more about positive vs. negative
feedback systems.

3. Examples of Homeostasis
There are many possible examples of homeostasis mechanisms in the human body.
The following are included in some courses in biology, human biology and anatomy
& physiology.

Temperature Homeostasis (Thermoregulation)


Blood Glucose Homeostasis - the cycle of regulation of blood sugar levels is
described on the page about diabetes.
Blood Water Homeostasis (Osmoregulation)

4. Homeostasis, Disorders and Disease


Question: Why is homeostasis important ?
Answer: Homeostasis is necessary for good health. Without it, disorders, disease
and death may result.
Provided that the body's controlled conditions are kept within certain constraints e.g.
of temperature, concentration of biochemicals, etc., the body stays healthy and can
generally be expected to thrive - including growing and developing during childhood
and supporting developing fetus(es) during pregnancy. However, if homeostasis is not
maintained, the balance of the body's processes may be disturbed, leading
to disorder(s), disease or even death.

A disorder is an abnormality or malfunction of some part of the body or a


system of the body.
E.g. heat-stress can take many forms depending on the severity and if the
person is too hot or too cold. In general most severe abnormalities have
become recognized diseases - see below.

A disease is a disorder characterized by specific recognizable signs and


symptoms - except forms of ill-health that are (only) a direct result of
physical injury e.g. due to an accident.
E.g. Diabetes mellitus is a disease due to failure of glucose homeostasis.

Death may result from some (though not all) untreated diseases - including
those due to the failure of homeostasis.
E.g. if untreated, a person with diabetic ketoacidosis - which involves the
accumulation of ketone bodies in the bloodtogether with increased blood

acidity - can quickly experience shock then fall into a coma, from which death
might occur.