Key Points

• Physiologic processes have evolved to maintain the constancy or stability of the internal environment. This tendency toward maintenance of physiologic stability is homeostasis.

• Living things are open systems.

• The total body water is contained within two major compartments—the intracellular compartment and the extracellular compartment. The intracellular compartment is further subdivided into the plasma and the interstitial fluid compartments.

• The intracellular compartment is characterized by low intracellular Na+ and Cl~ concentrations and a high K+ concentration. The intracellular compartment comprises approximately 25 L, which is approximately 35% of total body weight.

• The extracellular compartment is divided into the plasma and interstitial compartments; the former comprises approximately 3 L and the latter approximately 12 L. These compartments are characterized by high Na+ and Cl~ concentrations and a low K+ concentration.

• Four organs provide the interfaces between the extracellular fluid compartment and the outside world: the skin, alimentary canal, lung, and kidney. The proper interactions among these organs and the external environment is essential for homeostasis.

Essential Medical Physiology, Third Edition

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