Homeostasis and Negative Feedback Mechanism

len Alfred Ajibola - Thu, 21st March, 2019 @ 13:55: PM

Topics in Biology

Types of Desert and their Characteristics Characteristics of Tropical Rainforest Swamp Forest: What are Swamp Forests? Characteristics of Swamp Forests Savanna: Savanna and Grassland explained Savanna - Types of Savanna Tropical Savanna and Temperate Savanna with their Characteristics Introduction to Biomes: What is a Biome? Importance of Swamp Forests Swamp Forests - Types of Swamp Forests Ecology - Ecological Concepts explained Biology: What is Biology? Are Viruses Living Organisms? Differences Between Bone and Cartilage Skeleton: Functions of the Human Skeleton Bone: Type and Classification of Bones based on Shape Skeletal Material: Cartilage and its Functions Cartilage: Types of Cartilage Components of the Ecosystem What is Ecology? Branches of Ecology Ecosystem: What is an Ecosystem?

Academic Questions in Biology

Please check out our Test Your Knowledge page to see all Questions and Answers

Which of the following is a category of long bones?

  • A. Stunted long bones
  • B. Reduced long bones
  • C. Giant long bones
  • D. Bended long bones
  • E. Curved long bones
  • F. Elongated long bones

The end product of photosynthesis is _____.

  • A. O2
  • B. C​​​​​​2​​​​C5OH
  • C. H2​​​​​O
  • D. CO2
  • E. C6H12O6
  • F. C2H5COOH

The above diagram illustrates a _____.

  • A. Food Chain
  • B. Food Web
  • C. Food Pyramid
  • D. Food Link
  • E. Food Hub
  • F. Food zone

The living cells that makes up cartilages are called _____.

  • A. osteocytes
  • B. osteoblasts
  • C. osteoclasts
  • D. chondroblasts
  • E. chrondocytes
  • F. Osteoprogenitor cells

Which of the following statement is incorrect with regards to chitin?

  • A. Ecdysis is a term associated with chitin
  • B. It is a skeletal material
  • C. It is a type of skeleton
  • D. It is present outside the organism
  • E. It does not grow when the organism grows
  • It is present in ants

Which of the following is NOT a function of the human skeleton?

  • A. Gives Shape
  • B. Provides Protection
  • C. Aids in Locomotion
  • D. Supports Movement
  • E. Assists in Inhalation and Exahalation
  • F. None of the above
  • G. All of the above

Organisms that manufacture their own food through the help of sunlight or chemicals are best referred to as _____.

  • A. autotrophs
  • B. chemosynthetic
  • C. photosynthentic
  • D. chemoautotrophs
  • E. photoautotrophs
  • F. chemoautotrophs

Organisms that begins a food chain and also manufacture their food through photosynthesis are best referred to as _____.

  • A. heterotrophs
  • B. autotrophs
  • C. homotrophs
  • D. producers
  • E. photosynthetic
  • F. chemosynthetic

What is Homeostasis?

Have you ever wondered why on a sunny day you drink a lot of water and tend to produce lesser urine? On the contrary, think about how likely you will produce more urine on a cold day and drink less water too. This is so because some processes are constantly ongoing inside your body and they are necessary for your survival.

Please read on the Basic Characteristics of Life here.

Now, let's imagine that someone has a fever. His or Her temperature will be abnormally high as a result of the fever. The person may sweat abnormally or even urinate abnormally. On your part, you will suspect that some processes are not working right inside the person.

Please read on Vectors of Diseases here.

Medically speaking, for a person to be physiologically healthy, the conditions and processes in his or her body must be carefully and properly controlled. This internal control is what homeostasis entails.

Homeostasis can be defined as the regulation and maintenance of a constant (or nearly constant) internal environment.

Understanding Internal Environment

Recall that your environment is everything that surrounds you; for instance air, water, phone, shoes and anything around you right now. This concept of environment is your external environment.

In physiology, we have another concept of environment called the internal environment; and it is this environment that the bodily homeostatic organs constantly regulate to it's best optimum conditions.

Now let's think of it this way; if for instance; the external environment is very dirty and unhealthy (from lack of regulation, cleanliness and healthy living), children will suffer from illnesses and diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery. This is true because the respective causative organisms (of such diseases) will find their way into the child's body systems and invariably, the environment inside their body (internal environment).

Please read on Microorganisms causing Food, Water and Air Borne Diseases here.

As living organisms, human beings are composed of trillions of cells. These cells aren't just stacked upon one another (like a pack of cards); instead, they are separated by a fluid filled space.

ICF and ECF - Len Academy

Image Credit: Quora

The above diagram illustrates the various fluids seen within and around the cell

The fluid filled space present outside all the cells of any multi-cellular organism is termed as the Extracellular fluid or ECF.

Note: The Blood Plasma (found inside the blood vessels; that is "arteries, veins and capillaries") is a component of the ECF because they are present outside the body cells. The same is true for the interstitial fluid which is also another component of the ECF.

Please read on various Disorders of the Artery here.

The ECF accounts for about 35% (one-third) of the Total Body Water (TBW) in healthy adults.

Please read on Immunization here.

Similarly, inside each of the cells is another kind of fluid called the Intracellular Fluid or ICF.

The ICF comprises of the cytoplasm of each cell's organelle which contains water, proteins and electrolytes.

About 65% (two-third) of the Total Body Water is ICF. For this reason, the volume of ICF is greater than that of ECF with regards to the Total Body Water (TBW).

The Total Body Water (TBW) accounts for about 65% of the body weight of an average man. (This value will vary with age, for instance children will have a higher percentage value while that of the aged will be lesser).

The above fact on TBW affirms that: "humans are composed more of water (liquid) than solids".

You can read on some amazing facts in Biology here.

The two compartment accounting for the Total Body Water are the ICF and ECF; and these presents the internal environment.

It is this internal environment that is regulated via homeostasis.

You can read on the Red Blood Cells and Hemoglobin here.

Note: The concentration of substances within the internal environment must be at a very narrow range, else, the organism becomes sick and may eventually die. Most of the medical drugs function by restoring the internal environment to it's normal composition.

You can read on Types and Functions of Drugs here.


Systems Coordinating Homeostasis

In humans, homeostasis is achieved through two systems; these are:

  1. Nervous System: It comprises of the brain and spinal cord.
    Please read on the Uniqueness of Man (The Brain).

  2. Endocrine System: It has every thing to do with hormones. The pituitary gland is often referred to as the master endocrine gland; that is, it regulates the homeostatic functions of other endocrine glands.

For now, think of endocrine glands as the producers of hormones.

These two systems coordinates all homeostatic processes by regulating the respective homeostatic organs in the body.

Homeostatic Organs

Below are some homeostatic organs alongside a summary of their homeostatic functions:

  • Hypothalamus: Regulates body temperature, sleep, appetite and thirst.

  • Kidney: Regulates water, salts and electrolyte via urine formation.

  • Skin: Regulates water, salts and electrolyte via sweat formation.

  • Liver: Regulates the storage of glucose, storage of blood, production of bile, breakdown of proteins, cleansing of the body and much more.

  • Pancreas: Regulates blood glucose and glycogen.

  • Lungs: Regulates oxygen and carbon(IV)oxide intake through breathing.

The diagram below shows the various homeostatic organs and their locations.

Endocrine Glands - Len Academy

Image Credit: Phagcse Science

Note: The nervous and endocrine systems regulate the above homeostatic organs through a mechanism called the negative feedback mechanism.


Negative feedback Mechanism

To explain what a negative feedback mechanism is, take a moment to imagine yourself walking down the road on a sunny day. You are most likely to sweat.

For the above scenerio, your act of sweating is good for you because this is how the homeostatic process regulates (attempts to cool) your body from the sun's hot rays.

Negative Feedback Mechanism for Temperature - Len Academy

Image Credit: Scientist Cindy

Again, sweating helps lower your body temperature and this is a good thing. This is true because when an increased bodily temperature isn't checked, controlled or regulated, it becomes dangerous to the health.

Still using the above instance, you will notice that the amounts of urine produced by your kidneys will be lesser on this sunny day. This is happening because you are already losing water and salt (through sweating), thus less urine is produced in an attempt to make up for your water loss (that is; an attempt to conserve water).

Again, you are likely to drink a lot of water on this sunny day due to a higher tendency of being thirsty. This thirstiness is brought about by the hypothalamus (through stimulations from the pituitary gland, also called the master endocrine gland). The goal of being thirsty is to enable you drink more water, thus compensating for the water loss which resulted from sweating.

All of these homeostatic processes in the above paragraphs will continue on and on. If not checked,  it might become detrimental to the your health.

From our above instance (walking down the road on a sunny day), you can't continue to sweat forever because that will not be good for you.

Now, what seems to be a solution at the beginning of our example (sweating) can now potentially cause excessive water loss; and this is where the negative feedback mechanism comes into play. To this end, the kidneys produces less urine while the hypothalamus stimulates thirst to compensate for water loss through sweating.

Please read on Sources, Functions and Defficiencies of Mineral Salts in Humans here.

Note: When you leave the sunny environment into a cold environment, your homeostatic organs will begin to revert their initial actions. As an instance, the following processes will occur on a cold day:

  • The skin starts producing less sweats.
  • The kidneys produces more urine.
  • The hypothalamus inhibits thirst.

The above homeostatic organs are able to revert their actions from a process termed negative feedback. Negative Feedback is a result of coordinations from the nervous and endocrine systems.

Negative feedback mechanism therefore allows the increasing product of a process or pathway to be controlled, decreased or put into check.

It generally causes a decrease in the function of a process.

We will discuss more on each of the homeostatic organs in a further article.

THANKS FOR READING - Please Help Share!


Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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