Human Body's Systems
Human Body's Systems
The circulatory system is the body's transport sytem. It is made up of a group of organs that transport blood throughout the body. The heart pumps the blood and the arteries and veins transport it. Oxygen-rich blood leaves the left side of the heart and enters the biggest artery, called the aorta. The aorta branches into smaller arteries, which then branch into even smaller vessels that travel all over the body. When blood enters the smallest blood vessels, which are called capillaries, and are found in body tissue, it gives nutrients and oxygen to the cells and takes in carbon dioxide, water, and waste. The blood, which no longer contains oxygen and nutrients, then goes back to the heart through veins. Veins carry waste products away from cells and bring blood back to the heart , which pumps it to the lungs to pick up oxygen and eliminate waste carbon dioxide.
The digestive system is made up of organs that break down food into protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats, which the body needs for energy, growth, and repair. After food is chewed and swallowed, it goes down the esophagus and enters the stomach, where it is further broken down by powerful stomach acids. From the stomach the food travels into the small intestine. This is where your food is broken down into nutrients that can enter the bloodstream through tiny hair-like projections. The excess food that the body doesn't need or can't digest is turned into waste and is eliminated from the body.
The endocrine system is made up of a group of glands that produce the body's long-distance messengers, or hormones. Hormones are chemicals that control body functions, such as metabolism, growth, and sexual development. The glands, which include the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, thymus gland, pineal body, pancreas, ovaries, and testes, release hormones directly into the bloodstream, which transports the hormones to organs and tissues throughout the body.
The immune system is our body's defense system against infections and diseases. Organs, tissues, cells, and cell products work together to respond to dangerous organisms (like viruses or bacteria) and substances that may enter the body from the environment. There are three types of response systems in the immune system: the anatomic response, the inflammatory response, and the immune response.
• The anatomic response physically prevents threatening substances from entering your body. Examples of the anatomic system include the mucous membranes and the skin. If substances do get by, the inflammatory response goes on attack.
• The inflammatory system works by excreting the invaders from your body. Sneezing, runny noses, and fever are examples of the inflammatory system at work. Sometimes, even though you don't feel well while it's happening, your body is fighting illness.
• When the inflammatory response fails, the immune response goes to work. This is the central part of the immune system and is made up of white blood cells, which fight infection by gobbling up antigens. About a quarter of white blood cells, called the lymphocytes, migrate to the lymph nodes and produce antibodies, which fight disease.
The lymphatic system is also a defense system for the body. It filters out organisms that cause disease, produces white blood cells, and generates disease-fighting antibodies. It also distributes fluids and nutrients in the body and drains excess fluids and protein so that tissues do not swell. The lymphatic system is made up of a network of vessels that help circulate body fluids. These vessels carry excess fluid away from the spaces between tissues and organs and return it to the bloodstream
The muscular system is made up of tissues that work with the skeletal system to control movement of the body. Some muscles—like the ones in your arms and legs—are voluntary, meaning that you decide when to move them. Other muscles, like the ones in your stomach, heart, intestines and other organs, are involuntary. This means that they are controlled automatically by the nervous system and hormones—you often don't even realize they're at work.
The body is made up of three types of muscle tissue: skeletal, smooth and cardiac. Each of these has the ability to contract and expand, which allows the body to move and function. .
Skeletal muscles help the body move.
Smooth muscles, which are involuntary, are located inside organs, such as the stomach and intestines.
Cardiac muscle is found only in the heart. Its motion is involuntary
The nervous system is made up of the brain, the spinal cord, and nerves. One of the most important systems in your body, the nervous system is your body's control system. It sends, receives, and processes nerve impulses throughout the body. These nerve impulses tell your muscles and organs what to do and how to respond to the environment. There are three parts of your nervous system that work together: the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system.
The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. It sends out nerve impulses and analyzes information from the sense organs, which tell your brain about things you see, hear, smell, taste and feel.
The peripheral nervous system includes the craniospinal nerves that branch off from the brain and the spinal cord. It carries the nerve impulses from the central nervous system to the muscles and glands.
The autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary action, such as hert beat and digestion.
The reproductive system allows humans to produce children. Sperm from the male fertilizes the female's egg, or ovum, in the fallopian tube. The fertilized egg travels from the fallopian tube to the uterus, where the fetus develops over a period of nine months.
The respiratory system brings air into the body and removes carbon dioxide. It includes the nose, trachea, and lungs. When you breathe in, air enters your nose or mouth and goes down a long tube called the trachea. The trachea branches into two bronchial tubes, or primary bronchi, which go to the lungs. The primary bronchi branch off into even smaller bronchial tubes, or bronchioles. The bronchioles end in the alveoli, or air sacs. Oxygen follows this path and passes through the walls of the air sacs and blood vessels and enters the blood stream. At the same time, carbon dioxide passes into the lungs and is exhaled.
The skeletal system is made up of bones, ligaments and tendons. It shapes the body and protects organs. The skeletal system works with the muscular system to help the body move. Marrow, which is soft, fatty tissue that produces red blood cells, many white blood cells, and other immune system cells, is found inside bones.
The urinary system eliminates waste from the body, in the form of urine. The kidneys remove waste from the blood. The waste combines with water to form urine. From the kidneys, urine travels down two thin tubes called ureters to the bladder. When the bladder is full, urine is discharged through the urethra.
Anatomists are people who study the human body.
Everyone is unique. We have different skin colors, hair colors, body shapes and sizes — but we all look alike inside. If you could peek inside your own body, what would you see? Hundreds of bones, miles of blood vessels, and trillions of cells, all of which are constantly working together, doing all kinds of different things
Main job: To protect your internal (inside) organs from drying up and to prevent harmful bacteria from getting inside.
How much: The average person has a total of six pounds of skin.
Epidermis: Outer layer of skin cells, hair, nails, and sweat glands.
Dermis: Inner layer of living tissue, containing nerves and blood
The largest bone in the body is the femur, or thigh bone; it is 20 inches long in a 6-foot-tall person.
Main job: To give shape to your body.
How many: At birth you had more than 300 bones in your body. As an adult you'll have 206, because some fuse together.
The smallest bone is the stirrup bone, in the ear; it is .1 inch long.
Kinds of Bones
Long bones are thin; they are found in your legs, arms, and fingers.
Short bones are wide and chunky; they are found in your feet and wrists.
Flat bones are flat and smooth, like your ribs and shoulder blades.
Irregular bones, like the three bones in your inner ear and the vertebrae in your spine, come in many different shapes.
Bones don't bend. It is the joint that allows two bones next to each other to move.
Main job: To allow bones to move in different directions.
Main job: These bands of tough tissue hold joints together. They are strong and flexible.
Every day, the average person's muscles work as hard as if they were placing 2,400 pounds on a 4-foot-high shelf.
Main job: To make involuntary or voluntary body movement possible.
How many: Your body has more than 650 muscles. Each muscle does only two things: contract when being used and expand when resting.
Kinds of Muscles
Skeletal muscles move your bones. They are called voluntary muscles because you decide when to move them. You have more than 400 voluntary muscles.
The job of the cardiac muscle, or heart, is to pump blood through your body. The cardiac muscle is involuntary; it never stops working during your lifetime.
Smooth muscles control your internal movements, such as moving food around in your intestines. These muscles are also found in the blood vessels, where they assist the flow of blood. Smooth muscles are involuntary.
Your fingers are mostly powered by muscles in your palm and wrist.
Main job: To hold your muscles to your bones.
Tendon fact: Tendons look like rubber bands.
This term refers to the organs, including the trachea or windpipe, lungs, liver, gallbladder, spleen, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, and bladder, that fill your body's chest and abdominal cavity. They belong to many different systems: respiratory, digestive, and urinary.
Main job: To provide your body with food and oxygen and to remove waste.
How many: The viscera are made up of 10 organs.
Main job: To manufacture substances that help your body to function in various ways.
Kinds of Glands
Endocrine glands make hormones, which tell the different parts of your body when to work.
Oil glands keep your skin from drying out.
Salivary glands make saliva, which helps to digest carbohydrates in your mouth and aids in swallowing.
Sweat glands make perspiration, which regulates your body temperature
There are 26 billion cells in a newborn baby and 50 trillion cells in an adult.
Main job: To perform the many jobs necessary to stay alive, such as moving oxygen around your body, taking care of the fuel supply, communications, and waste removal.
Some Different Cells
The egg is the largest human cell. Once it is fertilized, all other cells begin forming.
Bone cells help build your skeleton by secreting the fibers and minerals from which bone is made.
Fat cells store fat. They can shrink or grow. Once you have them you can't get rid of them.
Muscle cells are organized into muscles, which move body parts.
Nerve cells pass nerve messages around your body.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body.
White blood cells fight disease.
The Ladder of Life
The human body is fantastically complex — and fantastically capable. It is dependent on smaller, simpler units that each serve specific purposes. From the simplest to the most complex, they are:
• The basic building block of every living thing is the cell. Cells themselves are extremely complex, come in many different shapes and sizes, and serve countless different functions. Most cells are microscopic.
• A group of similar cells gathered together is called a tissue. Tissues, which may be visible to the naked eye, include bone, muscle, fat, and skin.
• Different kinds of tissue working together in the same place may form an organ. Organs, like the heart, lungs, eyes, and brain, perform specific tasks necessary for the body's survival.
• Several organs can work together in a system. The organs of a system may be close together, or spread across the body. Some examples are the digestive, reproductive, respiratory, excretory, and nervous systems.
• Some kinds of tissue may be found in more than one system. Muscle tissue, for example, is part of the muscular, respiratory, and circulatory systems. Some organs, like the pancreas (which is part of the digestive and endocrine systems) pull double duty.
brain, the supervisory center of the nervous system in all vertebrates. It also serves as the site of emotions, memory, self-awareness, and thought.
Anatomy and Function
Occupying the skull cavity (cranium), the adult human brain normally weighs from 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 lb (1–1.5 kg). Differences in weight and size do not correlate with differences in mental ability; an elephant's brain weighs more than four times that of a human. In invertebrates a group of ganglia or even a single ganglion may serve as a rudimentary brain.
By means of electrochemical impulses the brain directly controls conscious or voluntary behavior, such as walking and thinking. It also monitors, through feedback circuitry, most involuntary behavior—connections with the autonomic nervous system enable the brain to adjust heartbeat, blood pressure, fluid balance, posture, and other functions—and influences automatic activities of the internal organs. There are no pain receptors in brain tissue. A headache is felt because of sensory impulses coming chiefly from the meninges or scalp.
Anatomically the brain has three major parts, the hindbrain (including the cerebellum and the brain stem), the midbrain, and the forebrain (including the diencephalon and the cerebrum). Every brain area has an associated function, although many functions may involve a number of different areas. The cerebellum coordinates muscular movements and, along with the midbrain, monitors posture. The brain stem, which incorporates the medulla and the pons, monitors involuntary activities such as breathing and vomiting.
The thalamus, which forms the major part of the diencephalon, receives incoming sensory impulses and routes them to the appropriate higher centers. The hypothalamus, occupying the rest of the diencephalon, regulates heartbeat, body temperature, and fluid balance. Above the thalamus extends the corpus callosum, a neuron-rich membrane connecting the two hemispheres of the cerebrum.
The cerebrum, occupying the topmost portion of the skull, is by far the largest sector of the brain. Split vertically into left and right hemispheres, it appears deeply fissured and grooved. Its upper surface, the cerebral cortex, contains most of the master controls of the body. In the cortex ultimate analysis of sensory data occurs, and motor impulses originate that initiate, reinforce, or inhibit the entire spectrum of muscle and gland activity. The parts of the cerebrum intercommunicate through association tracts consisting of connector neurons. Association neurons account for approximately half of the total number of nerve cells in the brain. The tracts are believed to be involved with reasoning, learning, and memory. The left half of the cerebrum controls the right side of the body; the right half controls the left side.
Other important parts of the brain include the pituitary gland, the basal ganglia, and the reticular activating system (RAS). The pituitary participates in growth regulation. The basal ganglia, located just above the diencephalon in each cerebral hemisphere, handle coordination and habitual but acquired skills like chewing and playing the piano. The RAS forms a special system of nerve cells linking the medulla, pons, midbrain, and cerebral cortex. The RAS functions as a sentry. In a noisy crowd, for example, the RAS alerts a person when a friend speaks and enables that person to ignore other sounds.
Nerve fibers in the brain are sheathed in a near-white substance called myelin and form the white matter of the brain. Nerve cell bodies, which are not covered by myelin sheaths, form the gray matter. The billions of nerve cells in the brain are structurally supported by the hairlike filaments of glial cells. Smaller than nerve cells and ten times as numerous, the glia account for an estimated half of the brain's weight. Cranial blood vessels in the brain have certain selective permiability characteristics that largely constitute the “blood-brain barrier.” The entire brain is enveloped in three protective sheets known as the meninges, continuations of the membranes that wrap the spinal cord. The two inner sheets enclose a shock-absorbing cushion of
Clinically, death is defined as an absence of brain activity as measured by EEG. Injuries to the brain tend to affect large areas of the organ, sometimes causing major deficits in intelligence, memory, and movement. Head trauma caused, for example, by vehicle and industrial accidents, is a leading cause of death in youth and middle age. In many cases, more damage is caused by resultant swelling (edema) than by the impact itself. Stroke, caused by the blockage or rupturing of blood vessels in the brain, is another major cause of death from brain damage.
Other problems in the brain can be more accurately classified as diseases rather than injuries. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, and Huntington's disease are caused by the gradual death of individual neurons, leading to decrements in movement control, memory, and cognition. Currently only the symptoms of these diseases can be treated. Mental illnesses, such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are brain diseases that impact personality and, typically, other aspects of mental and somatic function. These disorders may be treated by psychiatric therapy, pharmaceutical intervention, or through a combination of treatments; therapeutic effectiveness varies significantly among individuals.
Some infectious diseases affecting the brain are caused by viruses and bacteria. Infection of the meninges, the membrane that covers the brain, can lead to meningitis. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as mad cow disease), is deadly in cattle and humans and is linked to prions. Kuru is a similar prion-borne degenerative brain disease affecting humans. Both are linked to the ingestion of neural tissue, and may explain the tendency in some species to avoid cannibalism. Viral or bacterial causes have been substantiated in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Lyme disease, encephalopathy, and encephalomyelitis.
Some brain disorders are congenital. Tay-Sachs disease, Fragile X syndrome, and Down syndrome are all linked to genetic and chromosomal errors. Malfunctions in the embryonic development of the brain can be caused by genetic factors, drug use, and disease during a mother's pregnancy.
Certain brain disorders are treated by brain surgeons (neurosurgeons) while others are treated by neurologists and psychiatrists.
Sensory nerve cells feed information to the brain from every part of the body, external and internal. The brain evaluates the data, then sends directives through the motor nerve cells to muscles and glands, causing them to take suitable action. Alternatively, the brain may inhibit action, as when a person tries not to laugh or cry, or it may simply store the information for later use. Both incoming information and outgoing commands traverse the brain and the rest of the nervous system in the form of electrochemical impulses.
The human brain consists of some 10 billion interconnected nerve cells with innumerable extensions. This interlacing of nerve fibers and their junctions allows a nerve impulse to follow any of a virtually unlimited number of pathways. The effect is to give humans a seemingly infinite variety of responses to sensory input, which may depend upon experience, mood, or any of numerous other factors. During both sleep and consciousness, the ceaseless electrochemical activity in the brain generates brain waves that can be electronically detected and recorded
Brain research, now often referred to as a part of neuropsychology, cognitive science, psychobiology, or other similar fields, has become much more active in recent years. Aided largely by advanced new imaging techniques such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and the PET (positron emission tomography) scan, neuroscientists have been better able to localize specific functions involving thought, language, perceiving, mental imaging, memory, and other abilities. Much more has been learned about the roles of neurotransmitters as well. New life has been given to the traditional philosophical debate on how to reconcile the seeming contradiction between the richness of subjective experience, including self-awareness, with purely scientific explanations of brain function.
brain stem, lower part of the brain, adjoining and structurally continuous with the spinal cord. The upper segment of the human brain stem, the pons, contains nerve fibers that connect the two halves of the cerebellum. It is vital in coordinating movements involving right and left sides of the body. Below the pons and continuous with the spinal cord is the medulla, which transmits ascending and descending nerve fibers between the spinal cord and the brain. The medulla also directly controls many involuntary muscular and glandular activities, including breathing, heart contraction, artery dilation, salivation, vomiting, and probably laughing. The nuclei of some of the nerves that originate in the brain are also located in the brain stem. Nerve fibers in the brain stem do not readily regenerate, hence injury may result in permanent loss of function.
heart, muscular organ that pumps blood to all parts of the body. The rhythmic beating of the heart is a ceaseless activity, lasting from before birth to the end of life.
Anatomy and Function
The human heart is a pear-shaped structure about the size of a fist. It lies obliquely within the chest cavity just left of center, with the apex pointing downward. The heart is constructed of a special kind of muscle called myocardium or cardiac muscle, and is enclosed in a double-layered, membranous sac known as the pericardium. A wall of muscle divides the heart into two cavities: the left cavity pumps blood throughout the body, while the right cavity pumps blood only through the lungs. Each cavity is in turn divided into two chambers, the upper ones called atria, the lower ones ventricles. Venous blood from the body, containing large amounts of carbon dioxide, returns to the right atrium. It enters the right ventricle, which contracts, pumping blood through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. Oxygenated blood returns from the lungs to the left atrium and enters the left ventricle, which contracts, forcing the blood into the aorta, from which it is distributed throughout the body. In addition, the heart employs a separate vascular system to obtain blood for its own nourishment. Two major coronary arteries regulate this blood supply.
The human heart beats more than 3.5 billion times in an average lifetime.
The heart is one of the most important components of the human body. The human embryonic heart begins beating approximately 21 days after conception, or five weeks after the last normal menstrual period (LMP), which is the date normally used to date pregnancy. The human heart begins beating at a rate near the mother’s, about 75-80 beats per minute (BPM). The embryonic heart rate (EHR) then accelerates linearly for the first month of beating, peaking at 165-185 BPM during the early 7th week, (early 9th week after the LMP). This acceleration is approximately 3.3 BPM per day, or about 10 BPM every three days, an increase of 100 BPM in the first month.
After peaking at about 9.2 weeks after the LMP, it decelerates to about 150 BPM (+/-25 BPM) during the 15th week after the LMP. After the 15th week the deceleration slows reaching an average rate of about 145 (+/-25 BPM) BPM at term. The regression formula which describes this acceleration before the embryo reaches 25 mm in crown-rump length or 9.2 LMP weeks is:
Age in days = EHR(0.3)+6
There is no difference in male and female heart rates before birth
Blood flows through the heart in one direction only. It is prevented from backing up by a series of valves at various openings: the tricuspid valve between the right atrium and right ventricle; the bicuspid, or mitral, valve between the left atrium and left ventricle; and the semilunar valves in the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Each heartbeat, or cardiac cycle, is divided into two phases. In the first phase, a short period of ventricular contraction known as the systole, the tricuspid and mitral valves snap shut, producing the familiar “lub” sound heard in the physician's stethoscope. In the second phase, a slightly longer period of ventricular relaxation known as the diastole, the pulmonary and aortic valves close up, producing the characteristic “dub” sound. Both sides of the heart contract, empty, relax, and fill simultaneously; therefore, only one systole and one diastole are felt. The normal heart has a rate of 72 beats per minute, but in infants the rate may be as high as 120 beats, and in children about 90 beats, per minute. Each heartbeat is stimulated by an electrical impulse that originates in a small strip of heart tissue known as the sinoatrial (S-A) node, or pacemaker.
the human body, the heart is usually situated in the middle of the thorax with the largest part of the heart slightly to the left (although sometimes it is on the right, see dextrocardia), underneath the breastbone The heart is usually felt to be on the left side because the left heart (left ventricle) is stronger (it pumps to all body parts). The left lung is smaller than the right lung because the heart occupies more of the left hemithorax. The heart is enclosed by a sac known as the pericardium and is surrounded by the lungs. The pericardium is a double membrane structure containing a serous fluid to reduce friction during heart contractions. The mediastinum, a subdivision of the thoracic cavity, is the name of the heart cavity.
The apex is the blunt point situated in an inferior (pointing down and left) direction. A stethoscope can be placed directly over the apex so that the beats can be counted. It is located posterior to the 5th intercostal space in the left mid-clavicular line. In normal adults, the mass of the heart is 250-350 g (9-12 oz), or about three fourths the size of a clenched fist, but extremely diseased hearts can be up to 1000 g (2 lb) in mass due to hypertrophy. It consists of four chambers, the two upper atria (singular: atrium ) and the two lower ventricles.
The function of the right side of the heart (see right heart) is to collect de-oxygenated blood, in the right atrium, from the body and pump it, via the right ventricle, into the lungs (pulmonary circulation) so that carbon dioxide can be dropped off and oxygen picked up (gas exchange). This happens through a passive process called diffusion. The left side (see left heart) collects oxygenated blood from the lungs into the left atrium. From the left atrium the blood moves to the left ventricle which pumps it out to the body. On both sides, the lower ventricles are thicker and stronger than the upper atria. The muscle wall surrounding the left ventricle is thicker than the wall surrounding the right ventricle due to the higher force needed to pump the blood through the systemic circulation.
Starting in the right atrium, the blood flows through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle. Here it is pumped out the pulmonary semilunar valve and travels through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. From there, blood flows back through the pulmonary vein to the left atrium. It then travels through the bicuspid valve to the left ventricle and on to through the aortic semilunar valve to the aorta. The aorta forks, and the blood is divided between major arteries which supply the upper and lower body. The blood travels the arteries to the smaller arterioles, then finally to the tiny capillaries which feed each cell. The (relatively) deoxygenated blood then travels to the venules, which coalesce into veins, then to the inferior and superior vena cavae and finally back to the right atrium where the process began.
The heart is effectively a syncytium, a meshwork of cardiac muscle cells interconnected by contiguous cytoplasmic bridges. This relates to electrical stimulation of one cell spreading to neighboring cells.
heart disease, any of several abnormalities of the heart and its function in maintaining blood circulation. Heart disease is the cause of approximately half the deaths in the United States each year. Among the most common causes of heart disease are degenerative changes in the coronary blood vessels, infectious diseases, and congenital heart disease. Congenital defects result from abnormal development of the fetal heart, commonly in the valves or septa. Such defects can be precipitated by environmental conditions in the uterus, such as the presence of the rubella virus, or they can be inherited. Infectious diseases acquired after birth, such as rheumatic fever, syphilis, and endocarditis, can also damage the valves of the heart. In addition, the heart muscle itself can be affected: hypertensive heart disease (see hypertension) can cause it to enlarge, and it can become inflamed by rheumatic fever. Arteriosclerotic depositions in the coronary arteries result in the narrowing of these vessels, causing insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle, a condition known as coronary artery disease. The characteristic radiating chest pain, angina pectoris, is the most prominent symptom of this condition. Coronary arteries already narrowed by arteriosclerosis are made susceptible to blockage by a clot (coronary thrombosis), causing the death of the heart muscle supplied by the affected artery, a life-threatening event called a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. Hypertensive, coronary, congenital, and other forms of cardiovascular disease, either singly or in combination, can lead to a state in which the heart is unable to expel sufficient blood for the metabolic demands of the body, ultimately resulting in congestive heart failure. Disturbances in the normal heartbeat, called arrhythmias, can occur by themselves or in conjunction with other heart problems, for example infarction affecting the area of the heart that controls the heartbeat.
arm, upper limb in humans. Three long bones form the framework of the arm: the humerus of the upper arm, and the radius (outer bone) and ulna (inner bone) of the forearm. The radius and ulna run parallel but meet at their ends in such a manner that the radius can rotate around the ulna. This arrangement permits turning the forearm to bring the hand palm up (supination) or palm down (pronation). The radius and ulna hinge with the bones of the hand at the wrist, and with the humerus at the elbow. The biceps brachii, a muscle of the upper arm, bends the arm at the elbow; the triceps brachii straightens the arm. Movement of the arm across the chest and above the head is accomplished by the pectoral muscles of the chest and deltoid muscles of the shoulder, respectively. In an adult the arm is normally five sixths as long as the leg.
any muscle having two heads, or fixed ends of attachment, notably the biceps brachii at the front of the upper arm and the biceps femoris in the thigh. Originating in the shoulder area, the heads of the biceps merge partway down the arm to form a rounded mass of tissue linked by a tendon to the radius, the smaller of the two forearm bones. When the biceps contracts, the tendon is pulled toward the heads, thus bending the arm at the elbow. For this reason the biceps is called a flexor. It works in coordination with the triceps brachii, an extensor. The biceps also controls rotation of the forearm to a palm-up position, as in turning a doorknob. The size and solidity of the contracted biceps are a traditional measure of physical strength.
triceps, any muscle having three heads, or points of attachment, but especially the triceps brachii at the back of the upper arm. One head originates on the shoulder blade and two on the upper-arm bone, or humerus. Uniting part of the way down the arm, the heads swell into the belly, or muscle proper. This tapers to a tendon that rounds the elbow and attaches to the ulna, the larger of the two forearm bones. Since contraction of the triceps straightens the arm, the muscle is called an extensor. It also helps lock the elbow when the forearm pushes forward against resistance. The triceps works in coordination with a flexor muscle, the biceps brachii of the upper arm.
skeleton, in anatomy, the stiff supportive framework of the body. The two basic types of skeleton found among animals are the exoskeleton and the endoskeleton. The shell of the clam is an exoskeleton composed primarily of calcium carbonate. It provides formidable protection, but it is bulky and severely restrictive of movement. The smallest exoskeletons are found on microscopic animals such as diatoms and certain protozoans. Coral reefs are made up of the accumulated exoskeletons of the coral polyp. The firm, flexible, chitinous (horny) insect skeleton is a combination of protective armor and a framework for attachment of the muscles used in rapid movement. The disadvantage of an exoskeleton is that it is nonliving, and must be shed periodically to allow for growth—a process limiting the maximum size of the organism.
The endoskeleton, a framework of living material enclosed within the body, permits larger size coupled with freedom of movement and is characteristic of vertebrate animals. In certain fish, it is made up entirely of cartilage, but in most vertebrates it is a mixture of bone and cartilage. The general arrangement of skeletal parts into skull, spinal column, ribs, and appendages is the same in all vertebrates. In addition to its supportive function, the skeleton provides sites for the attachment of the muscles used in movement and shields vital organs such as the brain and lungs. The skeleton of birds is especially adapted for flight; the bones are modified into light, hollow tubes penetrated by air sacs.
The human skeleton consists of 206 bones held together by flexible tissue consisting of cartilage and ligaments. It is composed of two basic parts, the axial and the appendicular skeletons. The axial skeleton includes the cranium, jawbone, ribs, sternum, and spinal column. The appendicular skeleton is made up of the upper (shoulder or pectoral) and lower (pelvic) girdles (see pelvis) and the bones of the arms and legs. Many diseases associated with the skeleton occur at the joints, notably the various types of arthritis, although such diseases as bone cancer may directly affect the skeleton. Skeletal remains are vital to physical anthropologists, who use them to trace human evolution.
skull, the skeletal structure of the head, composed of the facial and cranial bones. The skull houses and protects the brain and most of the chief sense organs; i.e., the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue. Among humans, some 14 bones shape the face, most occurring in symmetrical pairs. They are the lacrimals at the inner sides of the eyes, the nasals and nasal conchae of the nose, the palatines (palate), the zygomatics, or malars at the cheeks, the vomer (nasal septum), and the maxillae, or upper jaw. The mandible, or lower jaw, is not technically part of the skull. The adult human cranium, or braincase, is formed of fused skull bones: the parietals, temporals, ethmoid, sphenoid, frontal, and occipital. These are separate plates of bone in the fetus, but by birth they have generally grown sufficiently for most of their edges to meet. The remaining separations are known as fontanels, the most prominent being the soft spot atop a newborn's head. By the age of two years, all of these fontanels have been closed over by the growing cranial bones. However, the seams, or sutures, between the bones do not completely knit until the age of 20. The occipital bone at the base of the skull forms a complex joint with the first vertebra of the neck, known as the atlas, permitting rotation and bending of the head (see spinal column). Study of the fossil skulls of humans and their precursors has made important contributions to evolutionary theory, and to the science of physical anthropology. Earlier skulls of human ancestors, for instance, have been shown to have markedly smaller cranial capacities, as well as more powerful jaws, than do the Homo sapiens species which exist today.
rib, one of the slender, elongated, curved bones that compose the chest cage in higher vertebrates. Ribs occur in pairs, and are found in most vertebrates; however, in some lower vertebrates, including fishes, they run along the entire length of the backbone. The ribs of the snake are used in locomotion. In the human there are 12 pairs of ribs. Each rib is connected to the vertebral column by strong ligaments. In the front, a flexible section of cartilage connects the rib to the sternum, or breastbone. Below the 7th rib, the 8th, 9th, and 10th ribs are not attached directly to the sternum, but to the cartilage of the 7th rib. The 11th and 12th pairs of ribs are not attached in front at all, and hence are known as floating ribs. Technically, these ribs do not “float,” however, but are attached to the vertebral column in the rear and extend only part of the way around the chest. In birds and mammals, ribs enclose the lungs and heart and assist in the process of breathing. During inhalation the ribs move upward and farther apart, expanding the chest cavity. During exhalation their downward motion aids in expelling air from the lungs.
Backbone (spinal column)
spinal column, bony column forming the main structural support of the skeleton of humans and other vertebrates, also known as the vertebral column or backbone. It consists of segments known as vertebrae linked by intervertebral disks and held together by ligaments. In human beings, the spinal column of the child contains more vertebrae than the adult, in whom a number become fused into two immovable bones, the sacrum and the coccyx, forming the back of the pelvis. The 24 movable vertebrae are the 7 cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (back of chest), and 5 lumbar (loin). The remaining vertebrae include 5 fused sacral, and between 3 and 5 fused caudal. Each vertebra has a somewhat cylindrical bony body (centrum), a number of winglike projections, and a bony arch. The bodies of the vertebrae form the strong but pliable supporting column of the skeleton. The arches are positioned so that the space they enclose is in effect a tube, the vertebral canal. It houses and protects the spinal cord, and within it the spinal fluid circulates. Ligaments and muscles are attached to various projections of the vertebrae. The 12 pairs of ribs that make up the front of the chest are linked to the thoracic vertebrae. The spine is subject to abnormal curvature, injury, infections, tumor formation, arthritic disorders, and puncture or slippage of the cartilage disks. Scoliosis is one relatively common disease which affects the spinal column. It involves moderate to severe lateral curvature of the spine, and, if not treated, may lead to serious deformities later in life.
pelvis, bony, basin-shaped structure that supports the organs of the lower abdomen. It receives the weight of the upper body and distributes it to the legs; it also forms the base for numerous muscle attachments. In the human pelvis there are two large hip bones, each consisting of three fused bones, the illium, ischium, and pubis. The hip bones form a ring around a central cavity. The fused terminal segments of the spine, known as the sacrum and coccyx, connect the hip bones at the back of the central cavity; a fibrous band connects them at the front. In women the pelvis is wider and has a larger capacity than in men, a condition that reflects the child-bearing function in women. See skeleton.
spinal cord, the part of the nervous system occupying the hollow interior (vertebral canal) of the series of vertebrae that form the spinal column, technically known as the vertebral column. Extending from the first lumbar vertebra to the medulla at the base of the brain, the spinal cord of a human adult is about 18 in. (45 cm) long. Structurally, the cord is a double-layered tube, roughly cylindrical in cross section. The outer layer consists of white matter, i.e., myelin-sheathed nerve fibers. These are bundled into specialized tracts that conduct impulses triggered by pressure, pain, heat, and other sensory stimuli or conduct motor impulses activating muscles and glands. The inner layer, or gray matter, is primarily composed of nerve cell bodies. Within the gray matter, running the length of the cord and extending into the brain, lies the central canal through which circulates the cerebrospinal fluid. Three protective membranes, the meninges, wrap the spinal cord and cover the brain—the pia mater is the innermost layer, the arachnoid lies in the middle, and the dura mater is the outside layer, to which the spinal nerves are attached. Connecting with the cord are 31 pairs of these spinal nerves, which feed sensory impulses into the spinal cord, which in turn relays them to the brain. Conversely, motor impulses generated in the brain are relayed by the spinal cord to the spinal nerves, which pass the impulses to muscles and glands. The spinal cord mediates the reflex responses to some sensory impulses directly, i.e., without recourse to the brain, as when a person's leg is tapped producing the knee jerk reflex. Nerve fibers in the spinal cord usually do not regenerate if injured by accident or disease.
ear, organ of hearing and equilibrium. The human ear consists of outer, middle, and inner parts. The outer ear is the visible portion; it includes the skin-covered flap of cartilage known as the auricle, or pinna, and the opening (auditory canal) leading to the eardrum (tympanic membrane).
The middle ear, separated from the outer ear by the eardrum, contains three small bones, or ossicles. Because of their shapes, these bones are known as the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes). Air reaches the middle ear through the Eustachian tube, or auditory tube, which connects it to the throat.
The inner ear, or labyrinth, contains the cochlea, which houses the sound-analyzing cells of the ear, and the vestibule, which houses the organs of equilibrium. The cochlea is a coiled, fluid-filled tube divided into the three canals: the vestibular, tympanic, and cochlear canals. The basilar membrane forms a partition between the cochlear canal and the tympanic canal and houses the organ of Corti. Anchored in the Corti structure are some 20,000 hair cells, with filaments varying in length in a manner somewhat analogous to harp strings. These are the sensory hearing cells, connected at their base with the auditory nerve.
The Hearing Process
In the course of hearing, sound waves enter the auditory canal and strike the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. The sound waves are concentrated by passing from a relatively large area (the eardrum) through the ossicles to a relatively small opening leading to the inner ear. Here the stirrup vibrates, setting in motion the fluid of the cochlea. The alternating changes of pressure agitate the basilar membrane on which the organ of Corti rests, moving the hair cells. This movement stimulates the sensory hair cells to send impulses along the auditory nerve to the brain.
It is not known how the brain distinguishes high-pitched from low-pitched sounds. One theory proposes that the sensation of pitch is dependent on which area of the basilar membrane is made to vibrate. How the brain distinguishes between loud and soft sounds is also not understood, though some scientists believe that loudness is determined by the intensity of vibration of the basilar membrane.
In a small portion of normal hearing, sound waves are transmitted directly to the inner ear by causing the bones of the skull to vibrate, i.e., the auditory canal and the middle ear are bypassed. This kind of hearing, called bone conduction, is utilized in compensating for certain kinds of deafness and plays a role in the hearing of extremely loud sounds.
Balance and Orientation
In addition to the structures used for hearing, the inner ear contains the semicircular canals and the utriculus and sacculus, the chief organs of balance and orientation. There are three fluid-filled semicircular canals: two determine vertical body movement such as falling or jumping, while the third determines horizontal movements like rotation. Each canal contains an area at its base, called the ampulla, that houses sensory hair cells. The hair cells project into a thick, gelatinous mass. When the head is moved, the canals move also, but the thick fluid lags behind, and the hair cells are bent by being driven through the relatively stationary fluid. As in the cochlea, the sensory hair cells stimulate nerve impulses to the brain. The sensory hair cells of the saclike utriculus and sacculus project into a gelatinous material that contains lime crystals. When the head is tilted in various positions, the gelatin and crystals exert varying pressure on the sensory cells, which in turn send varying patterns of stimulation to the brain. The utriculus sends indications of the position of the head to the brain and detects stopping and starting.
Disorders of the Ear
One of the most common ear diseases is known as otitis media, a middle ear disorder. Most common among young children, otitis media probably results from Eustachian tubes that are shorter and more horizontal than in adults, allowing infection to spread and preventing fluids in the middle ear from draining. It can bring about permanent hearing loss, although modern medication is generally able to clear up the disease. Other ear diseases include otosclerosis, involving excessive bone growth in the middle ear, and presbycusis, the progressive decay of the inner ear's hearing nerve.
deafness, partial or total lack of hearing. It may be present at birth (congenital) or may be acquired at any age thereafter. A person who cannot detect sound at an amplitude of 20 decibels in a frequency range of from 800 to 1,800 vibrations per second is said to be hard of hearing. The ear normally perceives sounds in the range of 20 to 20,000 vibrations per second. There are two principal kinds of deafness, conductive deafness and sensorineural deafness. In some cases of deafness both the conductive and the nerve mechanisms are disturbed.
hearing aid, device used in some forms of deafness to amplify sound before it reaches the auditory organs. Modern hearing aids are electronic. They contain a tiny receiver and a transistor amplifier, and are usually battery powered. Some are small enough to fit into an arm of a pair of eyeglasses, or into the outer ear. The bone-conduction hearing aid, placed behind the ear, channels sound waves to the adjacent bony part of the skull, which then transmits the vibrations to the auditory nerve of the cochlea. The air-conduction hearing aid amplifies sounds and directs them into the ear toward the tympanic membrane. In recent years, a number of advancements have been made to hearing aids, improving the comfort, sensitivity, and aesthetic quality of the devices. Today, many hearing aids are customized to amplify only those noises (e.g., high frequency) that the user has difficulty hearing. Cochlear implants have been developed for use by certain totally deaf people. They consist of mechanical replacements for ineffective hair cells in the inner ear, which transform sound vibrations into electronic impulses that stimulate the auditory nerve.
The lung is the essential respiration organ in air-breathing vertebrates, the most primitive being the lungfish. Its principal function is to transport oxygen from the atmosphere into the bloodstream, and to excrete carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere. This exchange of gases is accomplished in the mosaic of specialized cells that form millions of tiny, exceptionally thin-walled air sacs called alveoli. The lungs also have non respiratory functions.
Energy production from aerobic respiration requires oxygen and produces carbon dioxide as a by-product, creating a need for an efficient means of oxygen delivery to cells and excretion of carbon dioxide from cells. In small organisms, such as single-celled bacteria, this process of gas exchange can take place entirely by simple diffusion. In larger organisms, this is not possible; only a small proportion of cells are close enough to the surface for oxygen from the atmosphere to enter them through diffusion. Two major adaptations made it possible for organisms to attain great multicellularity: an efficient circulatory system that conveyed gases to and from the deepest tissues in the body, and a large, internalized respiratory system that centralized the task of obtaining oxygen from the atmosphere and bringing it into the body, whence it could rapidly be distributed to all the circulatory system.
In air-breathing vertebrates, respiration occurs in a series of steps. Air is brought into the animal via the airways — in reptiles, birds and mammals this often consists of the nose; the pharynx; the larynx; the trachea (also called the windpipe); the bronchi and bronchioles; and the terminal branches of the respiratory tree. The lungs of mammals are a rich lattice of alveoli, which provide an enormous surface area for gas exchange. A network of fine capillaries allows transport of blood over the surface of alveoli. Oxygen from the air inside the alveoli diffuses into the bloodstream, and carbon dioxide diffuses from the blood to the alveoli, both across thin alveolar membranes.
The drawing and expulsion of air is driven by muscular action; in early tetrapods, air was driven into the lungs by the pharyngeal muscles, whereas in reptiles, birds and mammals a more complicated musculoskeletal system is used. In the mammal, a large muscle, the diaphragm (in addition to the internal intercostal muscles), drive ventilation by periodically altering the intra-thoracic volume and pressure; by increasing volume and thus decreasing pressure, air flows into the airways down a pressure gradient, and by reducing volume and increasing pressure, the reverse occurs. During normal breathing, expiration is passive and no muscles are contracted (the diaphragm relaxes).
Another name for this inspiration and expulsion of air is ventilation. Vital capacity is the maximum volume of air that a person can exhale after maximum inhalation. A person's vital capacity can be measured by a spirometer (spirometry). In combination with other physiological measurements, the vital capacity can help make a diagnosis of underlying lung disease.
Non respiratory functions
In addition to respiratory functions such as gas exchange and regulation of hydrogen ion concentration, the lungs also:
• influence the concentration of biologically active substances and drugs used in medicine in arterial blood
• filter out small blood clots formed in veins
• serve as a physical layer of soft, shock-absorbent protection for the heart, which the lungs flank and nearly enclose.
• filter out gas micro-bubbles occurring in the venous blood stream during SCUBA diving decompression.
In humans, it is the two main bronchi (produced by the bifurcation of the trachea) that enter the roots of the lungs. The bronchi continue to divide within the lung, and after multiple divisions, give rise to bronchioles. The bronchial tree continues branching until it reaches the level of terminal bronchioles, which lead to alveolar sacks. Alveolar sacs are made up of clusters of alveoli, like individual grapes within a bunch. The individual alveoli are tightly wrapped in blood vessels, and it is here that gas exchange actually occurs. Deoxygenated blood from the heart is pumped through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, where oxygen diffuses into blood and is exchanged for carbon dioxide in the hemoglobin of the erythrocytes. The oxygen-rich blood returns to the heart via the pulmonary veins to be pumped back into systemic circulation.
Bronchi, bronchial tree, and lungs (Cardiac notch labeled at bottom left).Human lungs are located in two cavities on either side of the heart. Though similar in appearance, the two are not identical. Both are separated into lobes, with three lobes on the right and two on the left. The lobes are further divided into lobules, hexagonal divisions of the lungs that are the smallest subdivision visible to the naked eye. The connective tissue that divides lobules is often blackened in smokers and city dwellers. The medial border of the right lung is nearly vertical, while the left lung contains a cardiac notch. The cardiac notch is a concave impression molded to accommodate the shape of the heart. Lungs are to a certain extent 'overbuilt' and have a tremendous reserve volume as compared to the oxygen exchange requirements when at rest. This is the reason that individuals can smoke for years without having a noticeable decrease in lung function while still or moving slowly; in situations like these only a small portion of the lungs are actually perfused with blood for gas exchange. As oxygen requirements increase due to exercise, a greater volume of the lungs is perfused, allowing the body to match its CO2/O2 exchange requirements.
The environment of the lung is very moist, which makes it hospitable for bacteria. Many respiratory illnesses are the result of bacterial or viral infection of the lungs
bone, hard tissue that forms the skeleton of the body in vertebrate animals. In the very young, the skeleton is composed largely of cartilage and is therefore pliable, reducing the incidence of bone fracture and breakage in childhood. The inorganic, or mineral, content of bone is mainly calcium, phosphate and carbonate minerals. The organic content is a gelatinous material called collagen. As the body grows older, decreases in bone mass may lead to an increased vulnerability to fractures. Bone fractures heal naturally, although they are often aided through restriction of movement in the affected area. Bones assume a variety of sizes and shapes; however, all bone tissue has a three-layered composition. A spongy layer forms the interior. Long bones (such as those in the arms and legs) are hollow, the inner spaces being filled with marrow , important in the formation of blood cells. Surrounding the spongy, inner layer is a hard, compact layer that functions as the basic supportive tissue of the body. The outer layer is a tough membrane called the periosteum, which sheaths most bones. Although bone appears solid, it contains numerous microscopic canals permitting the passage of blood vessels and nerve fibers. Two types of bone are present in most bones: compact, which constitutes the shaft, and cancellous, an extremely strong variety which makes up the enlarged ends of the bone.
bone marrow, soft tissue filling the spongy interiors of animal bones. Red marrow is the principal organ that forms blood cells in mammals, including humans . In children, the bones contain only red marrow. As the skeleton matures, fat-storing yellow marrow displaces red marrow in the shafts of the long bones of the limbs. In adults red marrow remains chiefly in the ribs, the vertebrae, the pelvic bones, and the skull. Erythrocytes (red blood cells), platelets, and all but one kind of leukocyte (white blood cell) are manufactured in human red marrow. The marrow releases about 10 million to 15 million new erythrocytes every second, while an equivalent number are destroyed by the spleen.
Diseases of the marrow, such as leukemia or multiple myeloma, or injury to it from metallic poisons can interfere with the production of erythrocytes, causing anemia. A bone marrow biopsy, in which a small sample of bone marrow is obtained by aspiration through a thin needle, may be used to aid in the diagnosis of leukemia, anemia, and other blood disorders, as well as to gain insight on the normal functioning of the cells of the bone marrow.
Bone marrow transplantation, is a technique that infuses healthy bone marrow into a patient whose bone marrow is defective. The transplant can be autologous, consisting of bone marrow removed from the patient, treated, and then reinserted, or it can be allogeneic, consisting of healthy bone marrow obtained from a closely related donor, such as a sibling . Bone marrow transplants are most frequently undergone for leukemia, severe forms of anemia, and disorders of the immune system. The major complications are graft-versus-host disease (as a result of allogeneic transplantation) and infections that occur before the transplanted marrow begins to produce leukocytes.
osteoporosis, disorder in which the normal replenishment of old bone tissue is severely disrupted, resulting in weakened bones and increased risk of fracture; osteopenia results when bone-mass loss is significant but not as severe as in osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis can occur in anyone, it is most common in thin white women after menopause.
Bone mass is typically at its greatest during a person's mid-twenties; after that point there is a gradual reduction in bone mass as bone is not replenished as quickly as it is resorbed. In postmenopausal women the production of estrogen, a hormone that helps maintain the levels of calcium and other minerals necessary for normal bone regeneration, drops off dramatically, resulting in an accelerated loss of bone mass of up to 3% per year over a period of five to seven years. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of bone-mass loss; a diet high in protein and sodium also speed calcium loss. The disorder also has a genetic component. A vitamin D receptor gene that affects calcium uptake and bone density has been identified, and the different forms of this gene appear to correlate with differences in levels of bone density among osteoporosis patients.
Osteoporosis has no early symptoms and is usually not diagnosed until a fracture occurs, typically in the hip, spine, or wrist. A diagnostic bone density test is thus recommended as a preventive measure for women at high risk. Treatment can slow the process or prevent further bone loss. Estrogen replacement therapy for postmenopausal women is effective but has potential side effects. Calcitonin, a thyroid hormone, is administered in some cases. Nonhormonal drugs for the treatment of osteoporosis include alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel), bisphosphonates that decrease bone resorption, and raloxifene (Evista), a selective estrogen receptor modulator that can increase bone mineral density. Teriparatide (Forteo), which consists of the biologically active region of human parathyroid hormone, stimulates the activity of osteoblasts, the specialized cells that form new bone. Dietary and supplemental calcium and vitamin D are usually recommended for people at risk, but a seven-year study of more than 36,000 women over 50 that was released in 2006 found that supplements conferred little benefit. Exercise, including weight training, has been found to strengthen bones directly and to improve muscle strength and balance and thus minimize the chance of falls.
leg, one of the paired limbs of an animal used for support of the body and for locomotion. Properly, the human leg is that portion of the extremity between the foot and the thigh. This section of the human leg contains two long bones, the tibia and the fibula. The upper end of the tibia joins with the lower end of the thighbone (femur) and forms a hinged joint. The kneecap (patella), a flat triangular-shaped bone, surrounds and protects this joint. The lower end of both tibia and fibula join with the talus, a bone in the foot, to form the ankle joint. The upper end of the femur, which is the longest bone in the body, forms a ball and socket joint where it meets the hipbone. In quadrupeds, both the hind and fore limbs are referred to as legs.
teeth, hard, calcified structures embedded in the bone of the jaws of vertebrates that perform the primary function of mastication. Humans and most other mammals have a temporary set of teeth, the deciduous, or milk, teeth; in humans, they usually erupt between the 6th and 24th months. These number 20 in all: 2 central incisors, 2 lateral incisors, 2 canines, and 4 premolars in each jaw. At about six years of age, the preliminary teeth begin to be shed as the permanent set replaces them. The last of the permanent teeth (wisdom teeth) may not appear until the 25th year, and in some persons do not erupt at all. The permanent teeth generally number 32 in all: 4 incisors, 2 canines, 4 bicuspids, and 4 (or 6, if wisdom teeth develop) molars in each jaw. Human canines are the smallest found in any mammal.
Among all mammals, the tooth consists of a crown, the portion visible in the mouth, and one or more roots embedded in a gum socket. The portion of the gum surrounding the root, known as the periodontal membrane, cushions the tooth in its bony socket. The jawbone serves as a firm anchor for the root. The center of the crown is filled with soft, pulpy tissue containing blood vessels and nerves; this tissue extends to the tip of the root by means of a canal. Surrounding the pulp and making up the greater bulk of the tooth is a hard, bony substance, dentin. The root portion has an overlayer of cementum, while the crown portion has an additional layer of enamel, the hardest substance in the body. Most nonmammalian vertebrates do not have the outer layer of enamel on their teeth, but instead have a substance known as vitrodentine, similar to dentine, though much harder.
Proper diet is necessary for the development and maintenance of sound teeth, especially sufficient calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins D and C. The most common disorder that affects the teeth is dental caries (tooth decay). A widely accepted explanation of the process of tooth decay is that salivary bacteria convert carbohydrate particles in the mouth into lactic acid, which attacks the enamel, dentin, and, if left untreated, the pulp of the teeth. Regular cleansing and semiannual dental examinations are important in preventing dental caries and gum disorders. Fluoridation of public water supplies and use of fluoride toothpastes also help prevent caries. In the study of fossil remains done in paleontology and physical anthropology, teeth are the most frequently found remains, a testament to their high mineral content and resistance to deterioration over time.
fluoridation, process of adding a fluoride to the water supply of a community to preserve the teeth of the inhabitants. Tooth enamel ordinarily contains small amounts of fluorides and when the amount is augmented through the intake of fluoridated water, especially during the first eight years of childhood, tooth decay can be greatly reduced.
In the early 1900s, Frederick S. McKay, a Colorado dentist, discovered that an unknown substance in the local drinking water caused a mottling or staining of the teeth and that these teeth also showed fewer cavities. In 1931 the substance was identified as a fluoride. Later, in the 1930s, it was found that a fluoride level in drinking water of about one part per million was high enough to reduce tooth decay but low enough to prevent teeth from becoming mottled.
In some communities fluorides are a natural constituent of the water supply; other communities have added fluorides to their reservoirs. Such action has the support of the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and other scientific organizations. Although studies have proven that fluoridation at levels of one part per million is safe, attempts at fluoridation have met with resistance and controversy. Its opponents say that it constitutes compulsory medication, that the amount of fluorine taken into the body cannot be controlled, and that those who wish to prevent tooth decay through fluorides can do so individually by adding the compound to their beverages or by using toothpaste and other dental substances to which fluorides have been added. Despite such resistance, many Americans drink artificially fluoridated water, and fluoridation programs have been started in other countries as well.
dentition, kind, number, and arrangement of the teeth of humans and other animals. During the course of evolution, teeth were derived from bony body scales similar to the placoid scales on the skin of modern sharks. Tooth structures such as those found in humans are restricted to certain vertebrates, i.e., most fish, mammals, and reptiles, and some amphibians. The teeth of sharks, which are primitive vertebrates, consist of simple conelike structures, sometimes with serrated edges and sometimes flattened for crushing shelled prey. In many lower vertebrates the individual teeth are replaced throughout the animal's life; old tooth loss and new tooth growth follow wavelike patterns down the length of jaw and affect alternate teeth at any one time, so that half the teeth in a region are always functional. Fish and reptiles that have teeth have homodont dentition; that is, all teeth are identical. The mammals have heterodont dentition, or teeth of different basic types, including incisors for nipping or cutting, canines for piercing, and premolars and molars for shearing and grinding. Carnivorous animals have relatively small incisors, used for grasping rather than for cutting; long and strong canines; and relatively thin, sharp premolars and molars, used for severing muscle and other tissues. Herbivorous animals have well-developed incisors, used to cut grass and other vegetation; canines that are either smaller than those of carnivores or absent altogether; and broad, flat premolars and molars for grinding food. In some herbivores, the upper canines are absent, so they cut vegetation by the combined action of the tongue and lower incisors. Omnivorous animals such as man have less specialized dentition. Only part of the dentition of mammals is usually replaced; however, the incisors of rodents grow out at the base as fast as they wear down at the tip. Teeth, the hardest structures in the body, have been well preserved as fossils and have played an important role for paleontologists and physical anthropologists in the study of human evolution.
gland, organ that manufactures chemical substances. A gland may vary from a single cell to a complex system of tubes that unite and open onto a surface through a duct. The endocrine glands, e.g., the thyroid, adrenals, and pituitary, produce hormones that are secreted directly into the bloodstream. Exocrine glands secrete their substances onto an external or internal body surface. Most exocrine glands, e.g., the salivary and lacrimal glands, release their secretions through ducts. However, some open directly onto a body surface, as in the sebaceous glands of the skin and the digestive glands of the intestinal mucosa. A simple exocrine gland may consist only of a tube lined with secretory cells. In more complex types, clumps of cells produce the secretion and a duct or system of ducts discharges the secreted material. Some glands have dual functions, e.g., the liver, pancreas, ovary, and testis produce both a secretion that is emitted through a duct and a hormone that is taken up by the blood. Such structures are called mixed glands. Among the substances produced by exocrine glands in humans are sweat, lubricants like mucus and tears, and digestive juices. There are specialized exocrine glands in the animal world that produce such substances as the shells of bird eggs, spiderwebs, and the cocoons of the silkworm larvae. Simple glands are also common in the plant kingdom. The sweet nectar of flowers and the resinous pitch of pine trees are substances produced by plant glands.
The body control system composed of a group of glands that maintain a stable internal environment by producing chemical regulatory substances called hormones. The endocrine system includes the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal gland, pancreas, ovaries, and testes . The thymus gland, pineal gland, and kidney are also sometimes considered endocrine organs.
The endocrine glands appear unique in that the hormones they produce do not pass through tubes or ducts. The hormones are secreted directly into the internal environment, where they are transmitted via the bloodstream or by diffusion and act at distant points in the body. In contrast, other glands including sweat glands, salivary glands, and glands of the gastrointestinal system secrete the substances they produce through ducts, and those substances are used in the vicinity of the gland.
The regulation of body functions by the endocrine system depends on the existence of specific receptor cells in target organs that respond in specialized ways to the minute quantities of the hormonal messengers. Some endocrine hormones, such as thyroxine from the thyroid gland, affect nearly all body cells; others, such as progesterone from the female ovary, which regulates the uterine lining, affect only a single organ. The amounts of hormones are maintained by feedback mechanisms that depend on interactions between the endocrine glands, the blood levels of the various hormones, and activities of the target organ. Hormones act by regulating cell metabolism. By accelerating, slowing, or maintaining enzyme activity in receptor cells, hormones control growth and development, metabolic rate, sexual rhythms, and reproduction.
The master gland, i.e., the gland that regulates many of the other endocrine glands, is the pituitary, located at the base of the brain. Also called the hypophysis, the pituitary secretes at least five hormones that directly affect the other endocrine glands. It secretes thyrotropin, which manages thyroid gland activity, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which regulates activity of the adrenal cortex, and three gonadotropic hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and luteotropic hormone (LTH), all of which control the growth and reproductive activities of the sex glands. The pituitary also produces substances that do not act directly on other endocrine glands: somatotropic hormone, or growth hormone, which controls growth in all tissues; antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which controls the rate of water excretion in the urine; oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contraction and helps regulate milk production by the breasts; and melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which regulates the activity of the melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells.
The adrenal gland is another endocrine gland regulated by the pituitary. The adrenal cortex, the outer part of each of the two adrenal glands, produces aldosterone, cortisol, and other steroids. These substances regulate salt concentration in body fluids and glucose, fat, and protein metabolism. The inner portion of the gland, the adrenal medulla, secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine, substances connected with the autonomic nervous system that help the body to respond to danger or stress.
The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid, located below the larynx and partially surrounding the trachea, produces thyroxine, which controls the metabolic rate of most body cells, and calcitonin, which is responsible for maintaining proper calcium serum levels in the body.
The Sex Hormones
The testes produce the male sex hormone testosterone, which controls the development of the male sex organs as well as secondary sex characteristics. The pituitary hormone LH regulates testosterone production, and FSH initiates sperm formation in the testes. In females, FSH, LH, and LTH are integrated into the complex monthly cycles of ovulation, production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries and corpus luteum, and menstruation; LTH also contributes to lactation. Estrogen controls growth of the sex organs and breasts and regulates secondary sex characteristics. The most important function of progesterone is to prepare the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg.
Other Endocrine Glands
The other endocrine glands are not directly controlled by the pituitary. The four parathyroid glands, located behind the thyroid, secrete a hormone that regulates calcium and phosphate metabolism. The endocrine portion of the pancreas, called the islets of Langerhans, secretes insulin, which regulates the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood and glucagon, which raises blood sugar level. The thymus, sometimes considered another endocrine gland, processes lymphocytes in newborn animals, seeding the lymph nodes and other lymph tissues; it is partly responsible for the development of the organism's immune system. The kidney is sometimes considered an endocrine gland because it secretes the hormone renin which, with other substances, regulates blood pressure. The kidney produces a glycoprotein called erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production. The pineal gland produces a substance called melatonin, which helps regulate the body's internal clock.
Physiological processes are under nervous system as well as endocrine control and a gland adjacent to the pituitary, called the hypothalamus, mediates between the two systems. The hypothalamus secretes pituitary-regulating substances in response to nervous system stimuli including smell, taste, pain, and emotions. Thus, stress, cold, heat, and other stimuli release CRF, or adrenocorticotropic hormone-releasing factor, from the hypothalamus, causing ACTH to be produced by the pituitary, which in turn stimulates the production of the adrenal hormone cortisol. Similar chemical regulatory mechanisms operate in the regulation of the sex and thyroid hormones. Hypothalamic activity is also regulated by other body substances, e.g., cortisol inhibits the production of hypothalamic CRF.
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