Chapter 16 Digestion and Absorption Chapter 17 Breathing and Exchange of Gases Chapter 18 Body Fluids and Circulation Chapter 19 Excretory Products and their Elimination Chapter 20 Locomotion and Movement Chapter 21 Neural Control and Coordination Chapter 22 Chemical Coordination and Integration UNIT 5 HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY The reductionist approach to study of life forms resulted in increasing use of physico-chemical concepts and techniques. Majority of these studies employed either surviving tissue model or straightaway cell-free systems. An explosion of knowledge resulted in molecular biology. Molecular physiology became almost synonymous with biochemistry and biophysics. However, it is now being increasingly realised that neither a purely organismic approach nor a purely reductionistic molecular approach would reveal the truth about biological processes or living phenomena. Systems biology makes us believe that all living phenomena are emergent properties due to interaction among components of the system under study. Regulatory network of molecules, supra molecular assemblies, cells, tissues, organisms and indeed, populations and communities, each create emergent properties. In the chapters under this unit, major human physiological processes like digestion, exchange of gases, blood circulation, locomotion and movement are described in cellular and molecular terms. The last two chapters point to the coordination and regulation of body events at the organismic level. ALFONSO CORTI, Italian anatomist, was born in 1822. Corti began his scientific career studying the cardiovascular systems of reptiles. Later, he turned his attention to the mammalian auditory system. In 1851, he published a paper describing a structure located on the basilar membrane of the cochlea containing hair cells that convert sound vibrations into nerve 16.1 Digestive System 16.2 Digestion of Food 16.3 Absorption of Digested Products 16.4 Disorders of Digestive System Food is one of the basic requirements of all living organisms. The major components of our food are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Vitamins and minerals are also required in small quantities. Food provides energy and organic materials for growth and repair of tissues. The water we take in, plays an important role in metabolic processes and also prevents dehydration of the body. Biomacromolecules in food cannot be utilised by our body in their original form. They have to be broken down and converted into simple substances in the digestive system. This process of conversion of complex food substances to simple absorbable forms is called digestion and is carried out by our digestive system by mechanical and biochemical methods. General organisation of the human digestive system is shown in Figure 16.1. 16.1 DIGESTIVE SYSTEM The human digestive system consists of the alimentary canal and the associated glands. 16.1.1 Alimentary Canal The alimentary canal begins with an anterior opening – the mouth, and it opens out posteriorly through the anus. The mouth leads to the buccal cavity or oral cavity. The oral cavity has a number of teeth and a muscular tongue. Each tooth is embedded in a socket of jaw bone (Figure16.2). This type of attachment is called thecodont. Majority of mammals including human being forms two sets of teeth during their life, a set of 258 BIOLOGY Submaxillary and sublingual glands Figure 16.1 The human digestive system temporary milk or deciduous teeth replaced by a set of permanent or adult teeth. This type of dentition is calleddiphyodont. An adult human has 32 permanent teeth which are of four different types (Heterodont dentition), namely, incisors (I), canine (C), premolars (PM) and molars (M). Arrangement of teeth in each half of the upper and lower jaw in the order I, C, PM, M is represented by a dental formula which in human 2123 is . The hard chewing surface of the teeth, made up of enamel, helps2123 in the mastication of food. The tongue is a freely movable muscular organ attached to the floor of the oral cavity by the frenulum. The upper surface of the tongue has small projections called papillae, some of which bear taste buds. The oral cavity leads into a short pharynx which serves as a common passage for food and air. The oesophagus and the trachea (wind pipe) DIGESTIONAND ABSORPTION open into the pharynx. A cartilaginous flap called epiglottis prevents the entry of food into the glottis – opening of the wind pipe – during swallowing. The oesophagus is a thin, long tube which extends posteriorly passing through the neck, thorax and diaphragm and leads to a ‘J’ shaped bag like structure called stomach. A muscular sphincter (gastro-oesophageal) regulates the opening of oesophagus into the stomach. The stomach, located in the upper left portion of the abdominal cavity, has three major parts – a cardiac portion into which the oesophagus opens, a fundic region and a pyloricportion which opens into the first part of small intestine (Figure 16.3). Small intestine is distinguishable into three regions, a ‘C’ shaped duodenum, a long coiled middle portion jejunum and a highly coiled ileum. The opening of the stomach into the duodenum is guarded by the pyloric sphincter. Ileum opens into the large intestine. It consists of caecum, colon and rectum. Caecum is a small blind sac which hosts some symbiotic micro-organisms. A narrow finger-like tubular projection, the vermiform appendix which is a vestigial organ, arises from the caecum. The caecum opens into the colon. The colon is divided into three parts – an ascending, a transverse and a descending part. The descending part opens into the rectum which opens out through the anus. The wall of alimentary canal from oesophagus to rectum possesses four layers (Figure 16.4) namely serosa, muscularis, sub-mucosa and mucosa. Serosa is the outermost layer and is made up of a thin mesothelium (epithelium of visceral organs) with some connective tissues. Muscularis is formed by smooth muscles usually arranged into an inner circular and an outer longitudinal layer. An oblique muscle layer may be present in some regions. The submucosal layer is formed of loose connective Figure 16.2 Arrangement of different types of teeth in the jaws on one side and the sockets on the other side Figure 16.3 Anatomical regions of human stomach DIGESTIONAND ABSORPTION Liver is the largest gland of the body weighing about 1.2 to 1.5 kg in an adult human. It is situated in the abdominal cavity, just below the diaphragm and has two lobes. The hepatic lobules are the structural and functional units of liver containing hepatic cells arranged in the form of cords. Each lobule is covered by a thin connective tissue sheath called the Glisson’s capsule. The bile secreted by the hepatic cells passes through the hepatic ducts and is stored and concentrated in a thin muscular sac called the gall bladder. The duct of gall bladder (cystic duct) along with the hepatic duct from the liver forms the common bile duct (Figure 16.6). Figure 16.6 The duct systems of liver, gall bladder and pancreas The bile duct and the pancreatic duct open together into the duodenum as the common hepato-pancreatic duct which is guarded by a sphincter called the sphincter of Oddi. The pancreas is a compound (both exocrine and endocrine) elongated organ situated between the limbs of the ‘U’ shaped duodenum. The exocrine portion secretes an alkaline pancreatic juice containing enzymes and the endocrine portion secretes hormones, insulin and glucagon. 16.2 DIGESTIONOF FOOD The process of digestion is accomplished by mechanical and chemical processes. The buccal cavity performs two major functions, mastication of food and facilitation of swallowing. The teeth and the tongue with the help of DIGESTION AND ABSORPTION into active trypsin, which in turn activates the other enzymes in the pancreatic juice. The bile released into the duodenum contains bile pigments (bilirubin and bili-verdin), bile salts, cholesterol and phospholipids but no enzymes. Bile helps in emulsification of fats, i.e., breaking down of the fats into very small micelles. Bile also activates lipases. The intestinal mucosal epithelium hasgoblet cells which secrete mucus. The secretions of the brush border cells of the mucosa alongwith the secretions of the goblet cells constitute the intestinal juice or succus entericus. This juice contains a variety of enzymes like disaccharidases (e.g., maltase), dipeptidases, lipases, nucleosidases, etc. The mucus alongwith the bicarbonates from the pancreas protects the intestinal mucosa from acid as well as provide an alkaline medium (pH 7.8) for enzymatic activities. Sub-mucosal glands (Brunner’s glands) also help in this. Proteins, proteoses and peptones (partially hydrolysed proteins) in the chyme reaching the intestine are acted upon by the proteolytic enzymes of pancreatic juice as given below: Proteins ⎫ ⎪ Trypsin/Chymotrypsin Peptones ⎬⎯ →Dipeptides⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ Carboxypeptidase⎪Proteoses⎭Carbohydrates in the chyme are hydrolysed by pancreatic amylase into disaccharides. Amylase →DisaccharidesPolysaccharides (starch) ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ Fats are broken down by lipases with the help of bile into di-and monoglycerides. ⎯LipasesFats ⎯⎯⎯⎯→Diglycerides ⎯⎯→ Monoglycerides Nucleases in the pancreatic juice acts on nucleic acids to form nucleotides and nucleosides ⎯ NucleasesNucleic acids ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯→Nucleotides ⎯⎯→ Nucleosides The enzymes in the succus entericus act on the end products of the above reactions to form the respective simple absorbable forms. These final steps in digestion occur very close to the mucosal epithelial cells of the intestine. BIOLOGY Dipeptidases Dipeptides ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯→ Amino acids ⎯ MaltaseMaltose ⎯⎯⎯⎯→ Glucose + Glucose ⎯ LactaseLactose ⎯⎯⎯⎯→Glucose+ Galactose ⎯ SucraseSucrose ⎯⎯⎯⎯→ Glucose+ Fructose Nucleotidases NucleosidasesNucleotides ⎯→Nucleosides ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ Sugars + Bases⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ ⎯ →Lipases Diand Monoglycerides ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯→ Fatty acids + Glycerol The breakdown of biomacromolecules mentioned above occurs in the duodenum region of the small intestine. The simple substances thus formed are absorbed in the jejunum and ileum regions of the small intestine. The undigested and unabsorbed substances are passed on to the large intestine. No significant digestive activity occurs in the large intestine. The functions of large intestine are: (i) absorption of some water, minerals and certain drugs; (ii) secretion of mucus which helps in adhering the waste (undigested) particles together and lubricating it for an easy passage. The undigested, unabsorbed substances called faeces enters into the caecum of the large intestine through ileo-caecal valve, which prevents the back flow of the faecal matter. It is temporarily stored in the rectum till defaecation. The activities of the gastro-intestinal tract are under neural and hormonal control for proper coordination of different parts. The sight, smell and/or the presence of food in the oral cavity can stimulate the secretion of saliva. Gastric and intestinal secretions are also, similarly, stimulated by neural signals. The muscular activities of different parts of the alimentary canal can also be moderated by neural mechanisms, both local and through CNS. Hormonal control of the secretion of digestive juices is carried out by local hormones produced by the gastric and intestinal mucosa. 16.3 ABSORPTION OF DIGESTED PRODUCTS Absorption is the process by which the end products of digestion pass through the intestinal mucosa into the blood or lymph. It is carried out by passive, active or facilitated transport mechanisms. Small amounts of monosaccharides like glucose, amino acids and some electrolytes like chloride ions are generally absorbed by simple diffusion. The passage of these substances into the blood depends upon the concentration gradients. However, some substances like glucose and amino acids are absorbed with the help of carrier proteins. This mechanism is called the facilitated transport.

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