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Glossary of Physiology Terms
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Definition:
An early sexual maturation stage, occurring 1 or 2 years before the onset of puberty, during which the zona reticularis of the adrenal cortex releases increased levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione. These adrenal androgens are ultimately responsible for the appearance of pubic and axillary hair, increased oil production by facial skin, acne, and distinct adult body odor.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Menarche
Pubarche
Thelarche



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:
All-or-nothing is usually used when describing the action potential. It refers to the well-known observation that an action potential always occurs in its full size (i.e., full magnitude of voltage change).

Many physiologists use all-or-nothing and all-or-none interchangeably.

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



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:
Proposed model for the inactivation of some voltage-gated ion channels. According to this model, after channel opening, the pore of the open channel is plugged by a globular cytoplasmic portion of the channel protein. The globular portion (ball of amino acids) is tethered to the rest of the protein by a linker part (chain of amino acids).

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Channel inactivation

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



Definition:
Accumulation of fluid in the interstitial compartment, which usually leads to a visible swelling of the affected tissue.



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:
The I band is the region of a striated muscle sarcomere that contains thin filaments. This region is closest to the Z disk, and is the lightest region of the sarcomere when viewed in under the light or electron microscope. The I band is occupied by the thin filaments only. Each Z disk runs through the middle of the I band. Therefore, half of each I band belongs to one sarcomere, and the other half belongs to the neighboring sarcomere. The I band shortens as the muscle contracts and the sarcomere shortens.

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



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:
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



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:
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:
Secretion refers to cellular release of substances (ions and small and large molecules) to the external environment of the cell. Secretion may be accomplished by exocytosis (fusion of transport vesicles with the plasma membrane and release of vesicle contents to the external environment), by transport of molecules across the plasma membrane (via the activity of transport proteins such as pumps, transporters, and channels), or by simple diffusion of fat-soluble molecules through the plasma membrane out of the cell.

For example, endocrine cells secrete hormone molecules that then enter the bloodstream. Neurons release (i.e., secrete) neurotransmitter molecules into the synaptic cleft. Some neurons secrete neurohormones; which similar to hormones, travel in the bloodstream to reach distant target cells. Epithelial cells secrete molecules in luminal spaces, such as digestive enzymes secreted into the digestive tract by various cell types.

See also:
Excretion









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