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Gerry Lennon

Learning Outcomes
1. Define homeostasis and explain its importance to

2. Identify the role of the nervous, endocrine and

circulatory systems in homeostasis

3. Describe the components of a feedback system 4. Compare positive and negative feedback loops and

give examples of each.


Homeostasis is the bodys ability to maintain relatively stable internal conditions even though the outside world is continuously changing
(Marieb, 2000)

The body is able to buffer fluctuations in the environment which ensures cell functioning and ultimately survival. Changes include;

Water pH Oxygen Temperature


Nutrients eg.Glucose Level of toxins/waste Salinity (osmotic pressure)


Why is homeostasis so important?

The body cells are extremely fussy about intracellular conditions (inside the cell) and it is the fluid outside the cell (extracellular/interstitial fluid) which determines whether the inside of the cell is kept constant. For continued health, chemical balance must be maintained inside and outside of the cells

cell ICF

carbon dioxide

ICF=Intracellular Fluid

Extracellular fluid (ECF)


Maintenance of Homeostasis
Occurs via adaptive mechanisms under the control of the NERVOUS SYSTEM (neural responses) and the ENDOCRINE SYSTEM (hormonal responses).
Neural and hormonal responses ensure that the following are kept at optimum levels; Body temperature Blood pressure (BP) Balance of body salts (eg. NaCl) Balance of O2 and CO2 Concentration of substance in blood eg. H2O

Body Systems and Homeostasis

Practically everything that goes on in the body helps maintain homeostasis; Kidneys removes a carefully regulated amount of H2O and wastes Lungs work with heart, blood vessels, blood to distribute O2 and remove CO2 Digestive system- nutrients pass through the small intestine into the blood and then to all body parts

Coordinated feedback mechanisms ensure that homeostasis takes place and appropriate adaptations by body made in response to changes or STRESSORS

Most disease is seen as being due to the result of

homeostasis being disturbed i.e. homeostatic imbalance With increasing age the control systems are less efficient and the stability of internal environment is weakened

Enabling Homeostasis to Occur

Need communication within the body: Nervous system - uses electrical & chemical

information that travels through nerves Endocrine system - uses hormones (chemicals released from endocrine organs) which travel in the bloodstream to their target areas

The Control System

Receptor Is a sensor that monitors the environment and responds to the change (stimuli) The control centre Determines the set point i.e. the range or level at which the variable has to be maintained Information is now analyzed and an appropriate response The effector This provides the way that something can happen The results then get fed back to influence the stimulus so that it is repressed/ reduced (negative feedback) or enhanced (positive feedback)

Variables such as temperature, blood sugar, and BP are regulated by the bodys response to deviations away from the norm and which is called Homeostasis. Changes in a variable will stimulate a receptor to send messages to the brain or control centre which triggers a response to bring it back to normal

Negative Feedback
The variable changes in a direction OPPOSITE to that

of the initial change returning it to its ideal value

The output of the system shuts off the original

stimulus or reduces its intensity

The endocrine, cardiovascular and neurological

system are all important for this process

One example is that of temperature control Can you think of any others?

Example of Negative Feedback


Positive Feedback

The result or response ENHANCES OR

EXAGGERATES the original stimulus so that the activity (output) is accelerated It is positive as the change that occurs is in the SAME direction as the initial disturbance and so the variable deviates further and further from its original value or range They control infrequent events that do not need continuous adjustments Amplifies something and usually triggers a cascade system Example: clotting cascade and contractions when giving birth


Types of Stressors Affecting Homeostasis

Physical: heat, noise
Chemical: food, hormones Microbiological: viruses, bacteria Physiological: tumour Developmental: age, genetic factors

Psychological: emotional and mental disturbances.


Illness and Death

If all systems are functioning adequately then homeostasis can be restored quickly via the feedback mechanisms. If a system breaks down then person may feel ill.

When the body is unable to restore homeostasis then external interventions may be required in order to avoid or delay death.
Can you suggest such interventions you may have seen in clinical practice?


Group Work!
1. 2.



Split into groups of three and identify yourselves as A, B or C Those who are As should explain the components included in a homeostatic feedback system and how it works- try drawing a diagram to help you. Those who are Bs need to give an example of a negative feedback mechanism in our body and describe how it works including stating where the control centre is located. (choose a simple example!) Finally, those of you who are the Cs need to give an example of a positive feedback mechanism, and explain why this is not as common as negative feedback systems. (you do not need to explain the detail of your example)