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Friday, February 10, 2017
Organization Of The Body
The cell is the basic living unit of the human body—indeed, of all organisms. The human body consists of more than 75 trillion cells, each capable of growth, metabolism, response to stimuli, and, with some exceptions, reproduction. Although there are some 200 different types of cells in the body, these can be grouped into four basic classes. These four basic cell types, together with their extracellular materials, form the fundamental tissues of the human body: (1) epithelial tissues, which cover the body’s surface and line the internal organs, body cavities, and passageways; (2) muscle tissues, which are capable of contraction and form the body’s musculature; (3) nerve tissues, which conduct electrical impulses and make up the nervous system; and (4) connective tissues, which are composed of widely spaced cells and large amounts of intercellular matrix and which bind together various body structures. (Bone and blood are considered specialized connective tissues, in which the intercellular matrix is, respectively, hard and liquid.)
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The next level of organization in the body is that of the organ. An organ is a group of tissues that constitutes a distinct structural and functional unit. Thus, the heart is an organ composed of all four tissues, whose function is to pump blood throughout the body. Of course, the heart does not function in isolation; it is part of a system composed of blood and blood vessels as well. The highest level of body organization, then, is that of the organ system.
The body includes nine major organ systems, each composed of various organs and tissues that work together as a functional unit. The chief constituents and prime functions of each system are summarized below. (1) The integumentary system, composed of the skin and associated structures, protects the body from invasion by harmful microorganisms and chemicals; it also prevents water loss from the body. (2) The musculoskeletal system (also referred to separately as the muscle system and the skeletal system), composed of the skeletal muscles and bones (with about 206 of the latter in adults), moves the body and protectively houses its internal organs. (3) The respiratory system, composed of the breathing passages, lungs, and muscles of respiration, obtains from the air the oxygen necessary for cellular metabolism; it also returns to the air the carbon dioxide that forms as a waste product of such metabolism. (4) The circulatory system, composed of the heart, blood, and blood vessels, circulates a transport fluid throughout the body, providing the cells with a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients and carrying away such waste products as carbon dioxide and toxic nitrogen compounds. (5) The digestive system, composed of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines, breaks down food into usable substances (nutrients), which are then absorbed from the blood or lymph; this system also eliminates the unusable or excess portion of the food as fecal matter. (6) The excretory system, composed of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra, removes toxic nitrogen compounds and other wastes from the blood. (7) The nervous system, composed of the sensory organs, brain, spinal cord, and nerves, transmits, integrates, and analyzes sensory information and carries impulses to effect the appropriate muscular or glandular responses. (8) The endocrine system, composed of the hormone-secreting glands and tissues, provides a chemical communications network for coordinating various body processes. (9) The reproductive system, composed of the male or female sex organs, enables reproduction and thereby ensures the continuation of the species.