26.1 Body Fluids and Fluid Compartments
Your body is mostly water. Body fluids are aqueous solutions with differing concentrations of materials, called solutes. An appropriate balance of water and solute concentrations must be maintained to ensure cellular functions. If the cytosol becomes too concentrated due to water loss, cell functions deteriorate. If the cytosol becomes too dilute due to water intake by cells, cell membranes can be damaged, and the cell can burst. Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by a fluid against a wall and causes movement of fluid between compartments. Fluid can also move between compartments along an osmotic gradient. Active transport processes require ATP to move some solutes against their concentration gradients between compartments. Passive transport of a molecule or ion depends on its ability to pass easily through the membrane, as well as the existence of a high to low concentration gradient.
26.2 Water Balance
Homeostasis requires that water intake and output be balanced. Most water intake comes through the digestive tract via liquids and food, but roughly 10 percent of water available to the body is generated at the end of aerobic respiration during cellular metabolism. Urine produced by the kidneys accounts for the largest amount of water leaving the body. The kidneys can adjust the concentration of the urine to reflect the body’s water needs, conserving water if the body is dehydrated or making urine more dilute to expel excess water when necessary. ADH is a hormone that helps the body to retain water by increasing water reabsorption by the kidneys.
26.3 Electrolyte Balance
Electrolytes serve various purposes, such as helping to conduct electrical impulses along cell membranes in neurons and muscles, stabilizing enzyme structures, and releasing hormones from endocrine glands. The ions in plasma also contribute to the osmotic balance that controls the movement of water between cells and their environment. Imbalances of these ions can result in various problems in the body, and their concentrations are tightly regulated. Aldosterone and angiotensin II control the exchange of sodium and potassium between the renal filtrate and the renal collecting tubule. Calcium and phosphate are regulated by PTH, calcitriol, and calcitonin.
26.4 Acid-Base Balance
A variety of buffering systems exist in the body that helps maintain the pH of the blood and other fluids within a narrow range—between pH 7.35 and 7.45. A buffer is a substance that prevents a radical change in fluid pH by absorbing excess hydrogen or hydroxyl ions. Most commonly, the substance that absorbs the ion is either a weak acid, which takes up a hydroxyl ion (OH-), or a weak base, which takes up a hydrogen ion (H+). Several substances serve as buffers in the body, including cell and plasma proteins, hemoglobin, phosphates, bicarbonate ions, and carbonic acid. The bicarbonate buffer is the primary buffering system of the IF surrounding the cells in tissues throughout the body. The respiratory and renal systems also play major roles in acid-base homeostasis by removing CO2 and hydrogen ions, respectively, from the body.
26.5 Disorders of Acid-Base Balance
Acidosis and alkalosis describe conditions in which a person's blood is, respectively, too acidic (pH below 7.35) and too alkaline (pH above 7.45). Each of these conditions can be caused either by metabolic problems related to bicarbonate levels or by respiratory problems related to carbonic acid and CO2 levels. Several compensatory mechanisms allow the body to maintain a normal pH.