From Sawka (1990).

From Sawka (1990).

the fraction of water in the body is determined largely by the fat content. The body's water can be divided into two components—the intracellular fluid and the extracellular fluid. The intracellular fluid is the major component and comprises approximately two-thirds of total body water. The extracellular fluid can be further divided into the interstitial fluid (that between the cells) and the plasma; the plasma volume represents approximately one-quarter of the extracellular fluid volume (Table 2).

Numerous electrolytes and solutes are dissolved within the body water compartments: an electrolyte can be defined as a compound which dissociates into ions when in solution. The major cations (positively charged electrolytes) in the body water are sodium and potassium, with smaller amounts of calcium and magnesium; the major anion (negatively charged electrolytes) is chloride, with smaller amounts of bicarbonate and protein. Sodium is the major electrolyte present in the extracellular fluid, while potassium is present in a much lower concentration (Table 3). Within the intracellular fluid the situation is reversed, and the major electrolyte present is potassium, while sodium is found in much lower concentrations. Maintenance of the transmembrane electrical and chemical gradients is of

Table 3 Ionic concentrations (mmoll 1) of body water compartments3.



Intracellular fluid



140 (135-145)

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