Quantitative Measurements

Normal ranges and deviations from the set point must be known quantitatively in order to study physiological mechanisms. For these and other reasons, quantitative measurements are basic to the science of physiology. One example of this, and of the actions of antagonistic mechanisms in maintaining homeostasis, is shown in figure 1.5. Blood glucose concentrations were measured in five healthy people before and after an injection of insulin, a hormone that acts to lower the blood glucose concentration. A graph of the data reveals that the blood glucose concentration decreased rapidly but was brought back up to normal levels within 80 minutes after the injection. This demonstrates that negative feedback mechanisms acted to restore homeostasis in this experiment. These mechanisms involve the action of hormones whose effects are antagonistic to that of insulin—that is, they promote the secretion of glucose from the liver (see chapter 19).

The Study of Body Function

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