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Definition:
Concave on both sides of a structure, usually referring to a disc or a lens.

Of particular importance to physiology is the structure of mature red blood cells (erythrocytes), which is a flattened cell that has assume a biconcave shape. It is thought that the biconcave shape of red blood cells helps with the flow property of blood through blood vessels.



Abbreviation:
Ca2+

Definition:
Calcium (Ca2+) is a divalent cation. It plays an important role in physiological processes such as muscle contraction and synaptic transmission. Calcium is also an intracellular messenger.

The extracellular concentration of Ca2+ is about 2 mM. The intracellular concentration of Ca2+ is about 70 nM.



Abbreviation:
CO

Definition:
Cardiac output is defined as the volume of blood pumped every minute by each (left or right) ventricle of the heart. It is generally reported in L/min or mL/min.

Cardiac output (CO) is the product of heart rate (HR) and stroke volume (SV). Thus,

CO = HR × SV

Heart rate is defined as the number of heart contractions per minute. Stroke volume is the volume of blood pumped per ventricular contraction.

For a typical resting adult human being at rest, CO is approximately 5 L/min.

CO = 70 contractions/min × 70 mL/contraction = 4,900 mL/min



Definition:
Thick connective tissue that separates the atria and the ventricles. It is also referred to as fibrous skeleton of the heart. Despite its name, it is important to note that there is no bone in this tissue.



Definition:
A positively charged ion.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Anion



Definition:
Refers to the concentration gradient of an ion or molecule. The concentration gradient may exist across a biological membrane, where the concentration is higher on one side of the membrane compared to the other side. Concentration gradient may also exist in a solution without an apparent barrier separating the area of higher concentration from the area of lower concentration. In both cases, the free energy that results from the concentration difference drives the movement of the ion/molcule from the area of higher concentration to the area of lower concentration. In free solution, the ion/molecule simply diffuses down its gradient. Movement across a biological membrane is more complicated and is a function of lipid solubility of the ion/molecule as well as the presence of channels or transport proteins that can allow the ion/molecule to cross the membrane (see Lipid Bilayer Permeability and Summary of Membrane Transport Processes).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Electrical gradient
Electrochemical gradient



Definition:
In biological solutions, electrical gradient refers to the electrical potential that acts on an ion to drive the movement of the ion in one or another direction (see Resting Membrane Potential - Establishment of the Membrane Potential).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Chemical gradient
Electrochemical gradient



Abbreviation:
ECG or EKG

Definition:
A recording of the electrical activity of the heart measured by placing multiple (3 to 10) electrodes on the surface of the skin.



Abbreviation:
VDF

Definition:
When an ion is not at its electrochemical equilibrium, an electrochemical driving force (VDF) acts on the ion, causing the net movement of the ion across the membrane down its own electrochemical gradient.

The electrochemical driving force is generally expressed in millivolts and is calculated according the following equation:

VDF = VmVeq

where VDF is the electrochemical driving force, Vm is the membrane potential, and Veq is the equilibrium potential.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Membrane potential
Equilibrium potential
Electrochemical gradient

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Electrochemical Driving Force Acting on Ions
Electrochemical Driving Force Calculator



Definition:
Refers to the balance of chemical and electrical gradients that act on an ion, particularly as it relates to the movement of an ion across a biological membrane (see Resting Membrane Potential - Establishment of the Membrane Potential and Resting Membrane Potential - Nernst Equilibrium Potential).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Chemical gradient
Electrical gradient






Definition:
Electrochemical gradient

See:
Electrochemical gradient



Definition:
A total plasma calcium level that is greater than the normal range of 2.2 - 2.6 mM (9 - 10.5 mg/dL). The free calcium concentration in the plasma is approximately 1.5 mM (6 mg/dL), and the remaining amount is bound to plasma proteins.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hypocalcemia



Definition:
A total plasma calcium level that is less than the normal range of 2.2 - 2.6 mM (9 - 10.5 mg/dL). The free calcium concentration in the plasma is approximately 1.5 mM (6 mg/dL), and the remaining amount is bound to plasma proteins.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hypercalcemia



Definition:
Lidocaine is a local anesthetic and an antiarrhythmic drug. It is a commonly used local anesthetic for minor surgery and in dental procedures. Lidocaine is also used topically to relieve itching, burning, and pain from skin inflammations.

Lidocaine's mechanism of action is to block fast voltage-gated Na+ channels of neurons and cardiac myocytes.

Other names used for lidocaine are xylocaine and lignocaine.

See also:
Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels

Other resources:
Lidocaine (Wikipedia)



Abbreviation:
PCG

Definition:
A recording of the sounds produced by the heart during the cardiac cycle. The main sounds recorded are those associated with turbulent blood flow caused by the closure of heart valves.



Definition:
A local topical anesthetic.

Procaine's mechanism of action is to block fast voltage-gated Na+ channels of neurons.

See also:
Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels

Other resources:
Procaine (Wikipedia)



Definition:
The A band is the region of a striated muscle sarcomere that contains myosin thick filaments. In fact, the A band is the entire length of the thick filament of the sarcomere. Its length is approximately 1 μm. The center of the A band is located at the center of the sarcomere (M line).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
H zone
I band
M line
Z disk



Abbreviation:
ACh

Definition:
Acetylcholine (ACh) is a chemical neurotransmitter used by the central nervous system (CNS) as well as the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Acetylcholine is a classical neurotransmitter and, in fact, it was the first of the classic neurotransmitters to be discovered. It was discovered in 1914 by Henry Hallett Dale while conducting experiments on the heart.

Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter used by the somatic division of the nervous system at the neuromuscular junction (where a somatic motor neuron makes synaptic contact with a skeletal muscle cell). Acetylcholine is also used extensively by both branches of the autonomic nervous system; sympathetic and parasympathetic. It is the primary neurotransmitter released in autonomic ganglia by preganglionic autonomic neurons. It is also the primary neurotransmitter released by parasympathetic postganglionic neurons. A few sympathetic postganglionic neurons also release acetylcholine. The diverse actions of acetylcholine are exerted via the activation of nicotinic and muscarinic ACh receptors.

Other resources:
Acetylcholine (Wikipedia)



Definition:
An enzyme found in the synaptic cleft at cholinergic synapses. It degrades acetylcholine to choline and acetate and, thus, terminates the action of acetylcholine at the synapse. Neither choline nor acetate can bind to acetylcholine receptors (nicotinic or muscarinic).



Definition:
The action potential is a rapid and reversible reversal of the electrical potential difference across the plasma membrane of excitable cells such as neurons, muscle cells and some endocrine cells. In a neuronal action potential, the membrane potential rapidly changes from its resting level of approximately -70 mV to around +50 mV and, subsequently, rapidly returns to the resting level again. The neuronal action potential forms an important basis for information processing, propagation, and transmission. In muscle cells, the action potential precedes, and is necessary to bring about, muscle contraction. Some endocrine cells also exhibit action potentials, where the excitation leads to hormone secretion.

The action potential is also referred to as the electrical impulse or nervous impulse.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Graded potential

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Leading toward a region or structure of interest.

In the nervous system, afferent fibers (i.e., neurons) transmit information from a peripheral receptor to the spinal cord or the brainstem. Afferent neurons are also referred to as sensory neurons.

In the kidneys, the afferent arteriole carries blood to the glomerular capillaries.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Efferent



Definition:
An agonist is a molecule that binds to a receptor and activates a physiological response similar to that induced by the naturally occurring physiological ligand of the receptor. Therefore, agonist binding to a receptor mimics the action of the natural ligand.

For example, acetylcholine (ACh) is the naturally occurring physiological ligand that activates nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Nicotine is an agonist of nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChR), and muscarine is an agonist of muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChR).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Antagonist



Definition:
An antagonist is a molecule that binds to a receptor, however, it does not activate the physiological response induced by the naturally occurring physiological ligand of the receptor. Moreover, once bound to the receptor, an antagonist prevents the physiological ligand from activating the receptor. Therefore, antagonist binding to a receptor prevents or blocks the action of the natural ligand.

For example, acetylcholine (ACh) is the naturally occurring physiological ligand that activates nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Tubocurarine and succinylcholine are antagonists of the nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR), and atropine is an antagonist of the muscarinic ACh receptor (mAChR).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Agonist



Definition:
Atropine is a blocker (i.e., inhibitor) of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Therefore, atropine blocks the action of postganglionic parasympathetic neurons.



Abbreviation:
BMI

Definition:
The body mass index is measured by dividing body weight (in kilograms) by body height (in meters) squared (kg / m2). It is highly correlated with body composition, and higher BMI values are correlated with higher body fat content. The BMI value is used to classify one's weight in several categories including underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. The range of BMI values considered to be normal is 18.5 to 24.9. Higher BMI values are associated with an increased risk for diseases such as diabetes mellitus type II, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

See also:
Body Mass Index Calculator

Other resources:
Body mass index (Wikipedia)



Definition:
Another name for the parafollicular cell type within the thyroid gland. C cells are situated outside of the thyroid follicles and are interspersed between the follicles. C cells are responsible for producing the hormone calcitonin.

See:
Parafollicular cell



Definition:
The lowest part of the female uterus facing the vaginal canal. It is cylindrical in shape and 2-3 cm long. A cervical canal runs the entire length of the cervix and connects the lumen of the vaginal canal to the lumen of the uterus. The opening of cervical canal into the uterus is called the internal os, and the opening into the vagina is called the external os.



Definition:
Refers to a conformational change of a channel protein by which the channel goes from the open state to the inactive state. The inactive state refers to a conformational state in which ions are not allowed to permeate the channel pore. Thus, with respect to ion permeability, the inactive state is similar to the close state of the channel. Ions cannot permeate the channel pore either in the closed or inactive state. However, the channel assumes very distinct and different conformations in the inactive state and closed state.

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
An integral membrane protein which contains a pore through which ions, water, or polar molecules permeate. For any given channel, the pore is usually very selective for the particular ion or molecule. For example, sodium (Na+) channels are very selective for Na+ over other cations.

The channel pore may be constitutively open, or it may be gated to the open state by various stimuli such as chemical ligands, voltage, temperature, or mechanical stimulation of the membrane.



Abbreviation:
CI

Definition:
The main anion (negatively charged ion) of the extracellular fluid.

Cloride (Cl) plays an important role in several physiological processes such as the action potential of skeletal muscle cells, CO2 transport in blood (via Cl/bicarbonate exchange across the plasma membrane of red blood cells), and many other processes.

The extracellular concentration of Cl is about 110 mM. The intracellular concentration of Cl is about 10 mM.



Definition:
Refers to neurons, synapses, or receptors where acetylcholine is used as the neurotransmitter.

For example, cholinergic neurons release acetylcholine as their neurotransmitter.

In cholinergic synapses, acetylcholine is released from the presynaptic neuron, and it acts on acetylcholine receptors in the plasma membrane of the postsynaptic cell.

Cholinergic receptors are those that respond to acetylcholine as the physiological ligand. The two major types are nicotinic and muscarinic cholinergic receptors (may also be referred to as nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors).

Cholinergic drugs are compounds that mimic the action of acetylcholine by binding to and activating cholinergic receptors.



Definition:
Coiled, fluid-filled cavity within the bony labyrinth of the inner ear, where the hearing (auditory) structures of the inner ear are located. The cochlea contains the Organ of Corti.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Organ of Corti



Definition:
Specifically, thyroid colloid. Refers to the protein-rich fluid within the lumen of thyroid follicles. The major protein component of the thyroid colloid is thyroglobulin.



Definition:
The colon is part of the large intestine within the digestive tract that is located between the cecum and the rectum. The colon is subdivided into the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and sigmoid colon.



Definition:
A type of secondary active transport across a biological membrane in which a transport protein couples the movement of an ion (usually Na+ or H+) down its electrochemical gradient to the movement of another ion or molecule against a concentration or electrochemical gradient. The ion moving down its electrochemical gradient is referred to as the driving ion. The ion/molecule being transported against a chemical or electrochemical gradient is referred to as the driven ion/molecule.

In cotransport, the direction of transport is the same for both the driving ion and driven ion/molecule (into the cell or out of the cell).

An example is the Na+/glucose cotransporter (SGLT), which couples the movement of Na+ into the cell down its electrochemical gradient to the movement of glucose into the cell against its concentration gradient.

Cotransport is also commonly referred to as symport.

Transport proteins that are involved in this type of transport are referred to as cotransporters or symporters.

See:
Symport

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Secondary active transport
Exchange

See also:
Lecture notes on Secondary Active Transport



Definition:
Mental retardation, dwarfism, and abnormal bone formation caused by thyroid hormone deficiency during fetal development.



Definition:
A potent blocker of nicotinic cholinergic receptors (nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, nAChR) found at the neuromuscular junction. At small doses, curare can lead to muscle weakness. At high doses, curare can lead to paralysis of skeletal muscles, which would also result in asphyxiation (and ultimately death) due to paralysis of the diaphragm. Curare was commonly the active agent of poison arrow.

Other resources:
See Wikipedia



Definition:
An electrophysiological technique in which the current passing across the cell membrane is controlled experimentally, and the membrane voltage is measured.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Voltage clamp

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels



Definition:
The flow of charge. In electrical wires and electronic circuits, current is carried by electrons. In physiological solutions, current is carried by ions in solutions.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Voltage



Definition:
The enzyme found in target tissues of the thyroid hormones that converts thyroxine (also known as tetraiodothyronine or T4) to triiodothyronine (T3).

Specifically, 5'-deiodinase converts T4 to the active form of the thyroid hormone, T3.

5-Deiodinase converts T4 to the inactive form of the thyroid hormone, reverse T3 (rT3).



Definition:
Leading away from a region or structure of interest.

In the nervous system, efferent fibers (i.e., neurons) transmit information from the central nervous system to peripheral effector organs (i.e., muscles or glands). Therefore, the cells bodies of efferent neurons reside within the central nervous system, whereas their axonal projections exit the central nervous system to make synaptic contact with effector organs in the periphery. Efferent neurons are also referred to as motor neurons.

In the kidneys, the efferent arteriole carries blood away from the glomerular capillaries.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Afferent



Definition:
Electrogenic pumps are primary active transporters that hydrolyze ATP and use the energy released from ATP hydrolysis to transport ions across biological membranes leading to the translocation of net charge across the membrane.

For example, the Na+/K+ ATPase (sodium pump) is an electrogenic pump because during every transport cycle, it transports 3 Na+ ions out of the cell and 2 K+ ions into the cell. This leads to the movement of one net positive charge out of the cell making this process electrogenic.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Electrogenic



Definition:
An electrogenic transport process is one that leads to the translocation of net charge across the membrane. For example, ion channels such as Na+, K+, Ca2+, and Cl channels are electrogenic.

The Na+/K+ ATPase is electrogenic because for every ATP molecule hydrolyzed, 3 Na+ ions are transported out of the cell and 2 K+ ions are transported into the cell (leading to the translocation of one net positive charge out of the cell).

Many secondary active transporters are also electrogenic. For example, the Na+/glucose cotransporter (found in the small intestine and kidney proximal tubules), transports 2 Na+ ions and 1 glucose molecule into the cell across the plasma membrane (leading to the translocation of two net positive charges into the cell per transport cycle).



Definition:
Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical properties of biological macromolecules, cells, tissues, and organs. Electrical signals such as voltage and/or current are generally measured. Examples include measuring changes in the membrane voltage of excitable cells (e.g., neurons, muscle cells, and some endocrine cells) during an action potential. The current carrried by ions as they permeate the pore of ion channels can also be measured - both at the single-channel level (single-channel current), as well as the macroscopic current resulting from the activity of a population of channels. As another example, electrical measurements may involve recording voltage changes at the surface of the skin that result from the activity of skeletal muscles (electromyogram, EMG), cardiac myocytes (electrocardiogram, ECG), or neurons in the brain (electroencephalogram, EEG).



Definition:
Endocrine cells are responsible for producing and releasing hormone molecules into the bloodstream. Endocrine cells are typically grouped together in organs referred to as endocrine glands.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Endocrine gland
Hormone



Definition:
Endocrine glands contain clusters of endocrine cells, whose function is to is to release hormones into the bloodstream.

Endocrine glands are ductless glands in that their secretions do not enter a duct (as for example with salivary glands). Rather, endocrine glands release their secretions (i.e., messenger molecules) into the interstitial fluid in highly vascularized regions, where the molecules then enter the bloodstream. The chemical messenger molecule that is released into the bloodstream is referred to as a hormone.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Endocrine cell
Hormone



Definition:
A type of secondary active transport across a biological membrane in which a transport protein couples the movement of an ion (usually Na+ or H+) down its electrochemical gradient to the movement of another ion or molecule against a concentration or electrochemical gradient. The ion moving down its electrochemical gradient is referred to as the driving ion. The ion/molecule being transported against a chemical or electrochemical gradient is referred to as the driven ion/molecule.

In exchange, the driving ion and the driven ion/molecule are transported across the biological membrane in opposite directions.

An example is the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX), which couples the movement of 3 Na+ ions into the cell down its electrochemical gradient to the movement of 1 Ca2+ ion out of the cell against its electrochemical gradient.

Exchange is also commonly referred to as antiport.

Transport proteins that are involved in this type of transport are referred to as exchangers or antiporters.

See:
Antiport

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Secondary active transport
Cotransport

See also:
Lecture notes on Secondary Active Transport



Definition:
Refers to the ability of some cells to be electrically excited resulting in the generation of action potentials. Neurons, muscle cells (skeletal, cardiac, and smooth), and some endocrine cells (e.g., insulin-releasing pancreatic β cells) are excitable cells.

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Protrusion or bulging of one or both eyeballs out of the orbit. It may be caused by swelling of orbital tissue in response to trauma, or by hyperthyroidism (especially primary hyperthyroidism).

It is also referred to as exophthalmus, exophthalmia, proptosis, or exorbitism.

Other resources:
Exophthalmos (Wikipedia)



Definition:
Facilitated diffusion (or facilitated transport) is a form of passive transport across biological membranes and refers to carrier-mediated transport of molecules/ions down a concentration gradient. Facilitated transport is mediated by facilitative transporters (also referred to as uniporters).

See also:
Facilitated Diffusion



Abbreviation:
GABA

Definition:
GABA is an inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. During embryonic development, GABA acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter at some central synapses. GABA is a classical neurotransmitter. Its action is exerted via the activation of GABAA, GABAB, and GABAC receptors. GABAA and GABAC receptors are ligand-gated chloride channels, whereas GABAB receptors are G protein coupled receptors. At GABAergic synapses, the action of GABA is terminated by GABA transporters (GAT), which transport GABA from the extracellular space in synaptic and extrasynaptic regions into neurons and glia.



Definition:
Excretion of glucose in urine. This is indicative of an abnormal condition such as hyperglycemia caused by diabetes mellitus.



Definition:
Glutamate (Glu, E) is one of the standard twenty (20) amino acids used by cells to synthesize peptides, polypeptides, and proteins. It has a molecular weight of 147.13 g/mol. Its side chain has a pKa of 4.07 and, therefore, glutamate has a net negative charge at physiological pH.

In the nervous system, glutamate is an excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter. In fact, glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. Glutamate is a classical neurotransmitter. Its action is exerted via the activation of glutamate receptors (GluR), some of which are ligand-gated ion channels (ionotropic receptors), and some are G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs, metabotropic receptors). At glutamatergic synapses, the action of glutamate is terminated by glutamate transporters (EAAT, excitatory amino acid transporter), which transport glutamate from the extracellular space in synaptic and extrasynaptic regions into neurons and glia.



Definition:
Glycine (Gly, G) is one of the standard twenty (20) amino acids. At a molecular weight of 75.07 g/mol, it is the smallest of the 20 amino acids used by cells to synthesize peptides, polypeptides, and proteins.

In the nervous system, glycine is also an inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter. Glycinergic synapses are most commonly found in brain stem and spinal cord circuits. Glycine is a classical neurotransmitter. Its action is exerted via the activation of ionotropic glycine receptors (GlyR), which are ligand-gated chloride channels. At glycinergic synapses, the action of glycine is terminated by glycine transporters (GlyT), which transport glycine from the extracellular space in synaptic and extrasynaptic regions into neurons and glia.



Definition:
Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland caused most commonly by iodine deficiency in the diet. Iodine deficiency leads to low levels of thyroid hormone production, and a reduction in thyroid hormone negative feedback on the hypothalamus and the anterior pituitary leads to a compensatory rise in the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Enlargement of the thyroid gland is, therefore, caused by abnormally high circulating levels of TSH, which has a strong trophic effect on the thyroid gland.



Definition:
Refers to synaptic or receptor potentials that can vary in amplitude and direction. Graded potentials can be depolarizing or hyperpolarizing and do not have a threshold.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Action potential

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction
Neuronal Action Potential - Graded Potentials versus Action Potentials



Definition:
A chemical messenger molecule secreted (i.e., released) by endocrine cells within endocrine glands.

By definition, a hormone molecule is released into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to find its target cells. Teget cells may be within the intravascular compartment (i.e., within blood vessels), but most hormones have target cells in tissues outside of the blood vessels.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Endocrine cell
Endocrine gland



Definition:
Related to, or pertaining to hyperglycemia.

An agent that causes an increase in plasma glucose concentration (i.e., induces hyperglycemia).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hyperglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemic



Definition:
Hyperthyroidism refers to a pathophysiological condition in which the thyroid gland produces and releases abnormally high levels of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include high metabolic rate, weight loss, nervousness, excess heat production, tachycardia, and tremor.

Two main forms of hyperthyroidism exist: (1) Primary hyperthyroidism, and (2) Secondary hyperthyroidism.

In primary hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces high levels of the thyroid hormones, either as a result of a secretory tumor of the thyroid gland, or under the control of thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins (such as in Graves' disease).

Secondary hypothyroidism is caused by high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the anterior pituitary gland. TSH then stimulates the thyroid gland to produce excessive amounts of the thyroid hormones.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hypothyroidism
Euthyroidism



Definition:
Related to, or pertaining to hypoglycemia.

An agent that causes a reduction in plasma glucose concentration (i.e., induces hypoglycemia).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hypoglycemia
Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemic



Definition:
Surgical removal of the pituitary gland (hypophysis).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hypophysis



Definition:
Hypothyroidism refers to a pathophysiological condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient amounts of the thyroid hormones (underactive thyroid), leading to abnormally low levels of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).

The symptoms of hypothyroidism may include reduced metabolic rate, chronic fatigue, weight gain, myxedema, and depression.

Three main forms of hypothyroidism exist: (1) Primary hypothyroidism, (2) Secondary hypothyroidism, and (3) Tertiary hypothyroidism.

In primary hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland itself is incapable of producing normal levels of the thyroid hormones.

Secondary hypothyroidism is caused by low levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH, produced by the anterior pituitary gland, is required to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones.

Tertiary hypothyroidism is caused by low levels of thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH). TRH, produced by the hypothalamus, is required to stimulate the anterior pituitary gland to produce TSH which, in turn, is required to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Primary hypothyroidism
Secondary hypothyroidism
Tertiary hypothyroidism

Hyperthyroidism
Euthyroidism



Definition:
A state of decreased total blood volume caused by blood loss, reduction in plasma volume, or other causes.



Definition:
Describes a condition in which there is a decrease in oxygen supply to tissues. It may be generalized (whole body) or local (e.g., brain).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Anoxia
Anoxemia
Hypoxemia



Definition:
Not permeable. Not allowing the passage of substances. Impermeable refers to a property of a membrane or channel pore in preventing or restricting the passage of substances. For example, the lipid bilayer portion of biological membranes is highly impermeable to ions and large polar molecules.

See also permeable.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Permeable
Permeability
Permeant
Impermeant

See also:
Lipid Bilayer Permeability



Definition:
Not permeant. Incapable of passing through or penetrating. Impermeant refers to the inability of a substance (e.g., ion or molecule) to cross (i.e., permeate or penetrate) a biological membrane or channel pore. For example, it can be said that ions are membrane impermeant.

See also permeant.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Permeant
Permeability
Permeable
Impermeable

See also:
Lipid Bilayer Permeability



Definition:
A glycoprotein released by parietal cells (also know as oxyntic cells) located in the fundus region of the stomach. Intrinsic factor is required for vitamin B12 absorption in the small intestine.



Definition:
In electrophysiological convention, a negative current value or downward deflection of a current trace is typically referred to as an inward current. A negative current value (i.e., inward current) can reflect either the movement of positive ions (cations) into the cell or negative ions (anions) out of the cell.

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels



Definition:
Refers to the ability of the thyroid gland to accumulate iodide (I) against a steep electrochemical gradient. While the iodide concentration in plasma and interstitial fluid is approximately 300 nL, iodide concentration in the cytoplasm of thyroid follicular cells, as well as the lumen of thyroid follicles can be many folds higher. The protein that enables iodide transport into the thyroid gland against an electrochemical gradient is the Na+/iodide symporter (NIS), which is located in the basolateral membrane of thyroid follicular cells. Within the lumen of thyroid follicles, iodide is incorporated into the tyrosine residues of thyroglobulin during thyroid hormone biosynthesis, hence, allowing very high iodide concentrations in the colloid.



Definition:
The voltage difference across a cell plasma membrane.

The membrane potential is generally inside negative with respect to the outside, where the outside potential is generally set as the reference value. In electrically excitable cells, the value of the membrane potential can be positive (inside with respect to the outside) during electrical activity (i.e., during action potentials).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Resting membrane potential

See also:
Resting membrane potential



Definition:
Chemical warfare agent belonging to sulfur (or sulphur) mustards. Causes severe chemical burns and water blisters (i.e., it is a vesicant). It is cytotoxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic.

Other resources:
Sulfur mustard (Wikipedia)



Definition:
An equation used to calculate the equilibrium potential (Veq.) of an ion. The equilibrium potential for an ion is also referred to as the Nernst potential for that ion. It is the membrane potential at which no net movement of the ion in question occurs across the membrane.

General form of the Nernst equation

where Veq. is the equilibrium potential, R is the universal gas constant, T is the temperature in Kelvin, z is the valence of the ionic species, F is the Faraday's constant, and [X]o and [X]i are the extracellular and intracellular, respectively, concentrations of the ion in question.

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Nernst Equilibrium Potential
Derivation of the Nernst Equation



Definition:
Net flux represents the amount of substance moved in or out of the cell. It is the mathematical difference between influx and efflux.

Net flux = Influx − Efflux

Similar to influx and efflux, net flux is reported as a rate. It is the net amount of substance that moves through a given area of the plasma membrane per unit time.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Flux
Influx
Efflux
Unidirectional flux



Definition:
Neurohormones are chemical messenger molecules that are released by neurons, but enter the bloodstream where they travel to distant target sites within the body. Therefore, neurohormones share characteristics with both neurotransmitters and hormones. Similar to neurotransmitters, neurohormones are released by neurons. Similar to hormones, neurohormones travel in the bloodstream.

Two well-known examples of neurohormones are oxytocin and the antidiuretic hormone (also referred to as vasopressin).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hormone
Neurotransmitter



Definition:
Neurotoxins are chemical molecules that have an adverse effect on neuron function and, thus, disrupt the normal function of the nervous system. Neurotoxins could be small molecules or peptides and can be derived from a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate animals, as well as plant species.

The following is a short list of some examples of neurotoxins:

α-Bungarotoxin: A peptide neurotoxin that inhibits the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

Chlorotoxin: A peptide neurotoxin that inhibits chloride channels.

α-Conotoxin: A peptide neurotoxin that inhibits the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

δ-Conotoxin: A peptide neurotoxin that inhibits voltage-gated sodium channels.

w-Conotoxin: A peptide neurotoxin that inhibits N-type voltage-gated calcium channels.

Picrotoxin: Inhibits GABAA receptor chloride channels.

Tetrodotoxin: Inhibitor of neuronal voltage-gated sodium channels.



Definition:
Chemical messenger molecules released by neurons into the synaptic cleft.

Neurotransmitter molecules may be small molecules such as glutamate, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), and glycine. These are referred to as classic neurotransmitters. A neuron generally releases only one type of small classic neurotransmitter.

Neurotransmitters may also be peptide molecules, such as substance P, opioids, and somatostatin. These are referred to as neuropeptides.

Gas molecules, such as nitric oxide (NO), may also act as neurotransmitters.



Definition:
Surgical removal of one or both ovaries.

Also known as ovariectomy

See:
Ovariectomy



Definition:
Auditory sensory organ within the inner ear cochlea, where the inner and outer hair cells are located.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Cochlea



Abbreviation:
OAEs

Definition:
Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) are sounds that arise from the organ of Corti within the cochlea of the inner ear in response to sound stimulation. They are thought to result from vibrations of cochlear outer hair cells (OHC) in response to stimulation by sound. Otoacoustic emissions are inaudible to the human ear, but can be recorded by placing a small recording device in the external auditory meatus (ear canal).

Otoacoustic emissions have clinical diagnostic value and are measured as part of hearing exams. In the newborn, otoacoustic emissions are recorded in order to detect blockage in the middle ear cavity (e.g., as a result of fluid accumulation) or external ear canal.



Definition:
Ouabain binds to and inhibits the transport activity of the Na+/K+/ATPase (i.e., sodium pump).

Ouabain is plant derived and belongs to the class of drugs referred to as cardiac glycosides. Similar to other cardiac glycosides, ouabain increase heart muscle contractility. However, ouabain is used only experimentally and not in humans (as for example digoxin is for the treatment of congestive heart failure).

There is some evidence that ouabain may be produced endogenously in humans.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Vanadate

Other resources:
Ouabain (Wikipedia)



Definition:
In electrophysiological convention, a positive current value or upward deflection of the current trace is typically referred to as an outward current. A positive current value (i.e., outward current) can reflect either the movement of positive ions (cations) out of the cell or negative ions (anions) into the cell.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Inward current

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels



Definition:
Surgical removal of one or both ovaries.

Also known as oophorectomy

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Oophorectomy



Definition:
The component of the electrocardiogram (ECG) that corresponds to the depolarization of atrial myocytes. Atrial depolarization precedes atrial contraction.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
QRS complex
T wave



Definition:
Cells within the thyroid gland. Parafollicular cells are situated outside of the thyroid follicles and are interspersed between the follicles. Parafollicular cells are responsible for producing the hormone calcitonin. Parafollicular cells are also referred to as C cells.



Definition:
Permeability refers to the ease with which molecules cross biological membranes. It may also refer to the ease with which ions or molecules pass through the pore of channel proteins.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Permeable
Impermeable
Permeant
Impermeant

See also:
Lipid Bilayer Permeability



Definition:
Permeable refers to a property of a membrane or channel pore in allowing substances to pass through. For example, the lipid bilayer portion of biological membranes is highly permeable to fat-soluble molecules, but is not permeable to ions and large polar molecules.

See also impermeable.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Impermeable
Permeability
Permeant
Impermeant

See also:
Lipid Bilayer Permeability



Definition:
Permeant refers to the ability of a substance (e.g., ion or molecule) to cross (i.e., permeate or penetrate) a biological membrane or channel pore. For example, it can be said that fat-soluble molecules are membrane permeant.

See also impermeant.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Impermeant
Permeability
Permeable
Impermeable

See also:
Lipid Bilayer Permeability



Definition:
Physiology is the study of how living systems function. The scope of physiological studies ranges from the subcellular level (molecules and organelles) all the way to the level of the whole organism and how organisms adapt to vastly different environmental conditions such as hot, cold, dry, humid, or high altitude.

See also:
What is Physiology?



Definition:
Plasma is the fluid portion of whole blood, which makes up about 40% to 60% of the total volume of whole blood. Plasma has a light yellow color and is generally obtained by separating the fluid portion from the blood formed elements through sedimentation or centrifugation. Plasma contains mostly water and, in addition, minerals, nutrients, proteins, hormones, and gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide). Unlike serum, in which fibrinogen and other clotting factors have been removed by coagulation, fibrinogen and other clotting factors remain present in plasma.

Plasma is one the main fluid compartments of the human body, making up nearly 10% of the total volume of body fluids. Plasma makes up the intravascular fluid compartment; itself a subcompartment of the extracellular fluid compartment.



Abbreviation:
K+

Definition:
The main cation (positively charged ion) of the intracellular fluid.

Potassium (K+) plays an important role in the action potential of neurons and muscle cells.

The extracellular concentration of K+ is about 4 mM. The intracellular concentration of K+ is about 150 mM.



Definition:
Primary hypothyroidism is characterized by abnormally low levels of thyroid hormone (T3 and T4) production, where the defect is at the level of the thyroid gland itself.

In primary hypothyroidism, the circulating levels of the thyroid hormones are low, however, the levels of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) are high due a lack of thyroid hormone negative feedback on the anterior pituitary.

Common causes of primary hypothyroidism include iodine deficiency (which leads to goiter), and Hashimoto's disease, in which autoimmune antibodies destroy the ability of the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hypothyroidism
Secondary hypothyroidism
Tertiary hypothyroidism



Definition:
Peptide hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland. Prolactin is best known for its action in stimulating the mammary glands to produce milk (lactation).

Prolactin is known to be involved in many other physiological processes including enlargement of the mammary glands in preparation for milk production, sexual gratification, metabolism, regulation of the immune system, and others.

Other resources:
Prolactin (Wikipedia)



Definition:
A period of rapid physical growth and change, brought about by hormonal changes, that culminates in sexual maturity. In most human girls and boys, it starts between the ages of 10 and 14 and it is complete by the age of 16 in most girls, and by the age of 17 in most boys.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Adrenarche
Menarche
Pubarche
Thelarche



Definition:
Pulse pressure is defined as the arithmetic difference between the systolic pressure (the highest blood pressure) and the diastolic pressure (the lowest blood pressure) recorded at any point along the vascular bed. Therefore:

Pulse pressure = Systolic pressure - Diastolic pressure

Pulse pressure values can be reported at any point along the vasculature starting from the left ventricle and aorta all the way to the vena cava and the right atrium. As with systolic and diastolic pressure values, pulse pressure is typically reported in mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). A typical arterial pulse pressure is 40 mm Hg (120 - 80 = 40 mm Hg). This value decreases as one proceeds along the vascular bed from arteries to arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins. The most significant drop occurs along the arterioles.

See also:
Mean Arterial Pressure Calculator



Definition:
The component of the electrocardiogram (ECG) that corresponds to the depolarization of ventricular myocytes. Ventricular depolarization precedes ventricular contraction.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
P wave
T wave



Definition:
The voltage difference across a cell plasma membrane in the resting or quiescent state. It is also simply referred to as the resting potential (Vrest). The value of the resting membrane potential varies from cell to cell. Depending on the cell type, it can range from −90 mV to −20 mV.

For example, Vrest is −90 mV in skeletal and cardiac muscle cells as well as in astrocytes. In a typical neuron, Vrest is approximately −70 mV. In many non-excitable cells, Vrest ranges from −60 to −50 mV. In photoreceptors, Vrest is about −20 mV.

See also:
Resting membrane potential



Definition:
Surgical removal of the fallopian tube.



Definition:
Secondary active transport is a type of active transport across a biological membrane in which a transport protein couples the movement of an ion (typically Na+ or H+) down its electrochemical gradient to the movement of another ion or molecule against a concentration or electrochemical gradient. The ion moving down its electrochemical gradient is referred to as the driving ion. The ion/molecule being transported against a chemical or electrochemical gradient is referred to as the driven ion/molecule.

This transport process is referred to as active transport because the driven ion/molecule is transported against a concentration or electrochemical gradient. It is referred to as secondary active transport because no ATP hydrolysis is involved in this process (as opposed to primary active transport). The energy required to drive transport resides in the transmembrane electrochemical gradient of the driving ion.

Secondary active transport is also referred to as ion-coupled transport. Those utilizing Na+ as the driving ion are called Na+-coupled transporters. Those utilizing H+ as the driving ion are called H+-coupled transporters.

Two types of secondary active transport exist: cotransport (also known as symport) and exchange (also known as antiport). Na+/glucose cotransporter and H+/dipeptide cotransporter are examples of cotransporters. Na+/Ca2+ exchanger and Na+/H+ exchanger are examples of exchangers.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Cotransport
Symport
Exchange
Antiport

See also:
Lecture notes on Secondary Active Transport



Abbreviation:
Na+

Definition:
The main cation (positively charged ion) of the extracellular fluid.

Sodium (Na+) plays an important role in several physiological processes such as the action potential of neurons and muscle cells, secondary active, sodium-coupled transport of ions, nutrients, neurotransmitters across the plasma membrane of cells, and many other processes.

The extracellular concentration of Na+ is about 145 mM. The intracellular concentration of Na+ is about 15 mM.



Definition:
Refers to the rapid depolarization of the membrane early in the action potential. In neuronal, skeletal muscle, and cardiac muscle action potentials, the Hodgkin cycle is responsible for the spike phase of the action potential.

See figure.

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
A rectangular signal waveform used in physiological studies to perturb (i.e., challenge) the system under study. The response of the system to the pulse is then studied carefully to learn about how the system responds to challenges.

Examples include pulses of voltage or current in electrophysiological experiments. Other examples include pulses of light, pressure, temperature, ligand, etc.

A square-wave pulse is defined by the amplitude and duration of the pulse, as well as by the frequency at which the pulse is applied to the system under study.

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Introduction

Other resources:
Square wave (Wikipedia)



Definition:
Synaptic pathology. Any pathophysiological condition that leads to abnormal function of synapses within the nervous system. The pathology may be due to pre-synaptic and/or post-synaptic mechanisms, or may involve glial cells surrounding synapses.



Definition:
The component of the electrocardiogram (ECG) that corresponds to the repolarization of the ventricles. Therefore, the T wave also corresponds to relaxation of the ventricles.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
P wave
QRS complex



Definition:
Tastants are taste-provoking chemical molecules that are dissolved in ingested liquids or saliva.

Tastants stimulate the sense of taste. It can also be said that tastants elicit gustatory excitation.

A tastant is the appropriate ligand for receptor proteins located on the plasma membrane of taste receptor cells.



Definition:
In humans, taste buds are the sensory receptor areas primarily on the tongue, but also in the throat, where taste receptor cells are located. In humans, there are approximately 10,000 taste buds in the oral cavity (tongue) and throat. A typical human taste bud contains about 50 taste receptor cells. Stimulation of taste receptor cells by tastants elicits the sense of taste (also referred to as gustation).



Abbreviation:
TEA

Definition:
An inhibitor of voltage-gated potassium (K+) channels.

TEA is a quaternary ammonium cation (positively charged ion). It is also commonly used as a cation replacement for sodium (Na+) in physiological buffers used in ion replacement experiments.

See also:
Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels



Definition:
The rate of movement of a substance across an interface in only one, and not the opposite, direction (i.e., flux in only one direction). For example, when referring to the plasma membrane of cells, we can think of unidirectional flux of a substance ino the cell (referred to as influx), as well as unidirectional flux of the substance out of the cell (referred to as efflux). The difference between two unidirectional fluxes is referred to as net flux, which is the net amount that moves into or out of the cell.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Flux
Influx
Efflux
Net flux



Definition:
An electrophysiological technique in which the voltage of a cell membrane is controlled experimentally, and the current passing across the membrane is measured.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Current clamp

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels



Definition:
The difference in electrical potential between two points.



Definition:
The part of the embryonic gonad that develops into the male reproductive ducts (epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles). In the female, this structure disappears because of the absence of anti-Müllerian hormone secreted by the Sertoli cells.









Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013
Last updated: Friday, August 28, 2015