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Human Physiology - Core Concept Master Cheat Sheet

01: Introduction to Physiology 03: Cell Structure and Function

• Physiology: Physiology is the study of body function. It is • Phospholipids: are a type of lipid that make up the
the study of the biochemical, physical and mechanical majority of mammalian cell membranes. The phospholipids
functions of living organisms. . are amphipathic because they have a hydrophobic tail and
• Cell Communication: Cells within a group of tissue must hydrophilic head group.
communicate to support themselves, as well as transmit • Plasma Membrane: The plasma membrane of
vital information. Specialized cell junctions, such as gap mammalian cells is also known as the phospholipid bilayer.
junctions, provide a direct connection for the transfer of It is semi-permeable barrier around the outside of the cell
molecules between cells. Cell receptors also provide a and, within its interior, is the cytosol, organelles and
major form of cell communication between cells. nucleus of the cell.
• Homeostasis: Homeostasis is a vital concept in human • Cell Nucleus: The cell nucleus is usually near the center
physiology. It is the process through which a nearly stable of the cell; it contains the majority of the genetic material
internal environment is maintained in the body so that in cells. Within the nucleus, the DNA is compacted and
cellular functions can proceed at maximum efficiency. organized into chromosomes. Also within the nucleus is the
Every body structure contributes to maintaining the nucleolus. The nucleolus has no true membrane
internal environment within a normal range of surrounding it, and this is where ribosomes are produced.
temperature, pH, oxygenation, etc. • Phagocytosis: is a form of endocytosis where portions of
the cell or an entire cell, such as bacteria, are engulfed.
Phagocytes, such as macrophages and neutrophils,
perform this function regularly as part of an immune
• Cholecterol: plays a key role in plasma membranes, with
respect to membrane fluidity. Processes, such as signaling,
endocytosis, and protein movement require a fluid
environment to occur.

Cell Receptors Gap Junctions

02: Chemical Composition of the Body

• Structure of an Atom: Atomic nuclei contain protons and
neutrons. Each type of atom, or element, has a different 04: Enzymes and Energy
number of protons. For example, hydrogen has 1 proton, • Catalyst: are molecules or substances that effect the
while carbon has 14. conversion of reactants to reaction products.
• Atomic Number: of an atom is equal to the number of • Enzymes as Catalysts: Enzymes catalyze most
protons. The atomic number, or Z, appears in the top left biochemical reactions. For reactants to form products, a
corner of the periodic table of elements. certain input of energy is necessary to get things going.
• Carbohydrates: are categorized into 3 main forms: This energy is called the energy of activation. Enzymes
monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. The function as catalysts by lowering the Energy of activation
functions of carbohydrates include energy usage, energy (Ea), but they do not change the Gibbs free energy (ΔG).
storage, and building material (e.g., cellulose in plant cell • Enzyme Kinetics: Enzymes can perform many reactions
walls); they can also modify other macromolecules (e.g., in a short amount of time, up to millions per second.
glycolipids, glycoproteins). Enzyme rates are dependent on the conditions of the
• Proteins: are formed by amino acids being linked solution and the concentration of the substrates.
together and assuming their final conformation. The amino • ATP: Adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) is the form in which
acids are linked together through peptide bonds. Peptide energy is stored inside cells; it is the “energy currency”.
bonds are chemical bonds between two molecules, or ATP is produced during metabolic reactions, as well as
amino acids, and are formed between the carboxyl group through the electron transport chain.
of one molecule and the amine group of the other. • ATP Synthase: Potential energy is used by ATP Synthase
to generate ATP from the phosphorylation of ADP.

Bonding No Enzyme
Free energy

C Ea
C + Enzyme
4 hydrogen and Methane
1 carbon atoms Molecule

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05: Cellular Respiration and Metabolism 07: Endocrine System Physiology
• Metabolism: is the catalytic breakdown of the products • Metabolism: can be broken down into 3 major
of digestion to provide nutrients for the cells of the body. categories: (A) Amine, (B) Peptide hormones, and (C)
• Glycolysis: is a series of 10 steps with reactions that Lipid hormones.
convert glucose into pyruvate. During the process of • Hormone Transport: Hormones can travel free in the
these reactions, ATP is produced and the coenzyme NADH plasma, or bound to carrier proteins, such as serum
is produced. albumin.
• Krebs Cycle: The Krebs cycle is also known as the Citric • Hypothalamus: The Hypothalamus-Pituitary system is the
Acid Cycle and the Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle. This cycle master control center of endocrine physiology.
converts Acetyl CoA into a reaction net of: 2 GTP, 6 NADH, • Pancreas: The endocrine function of the pancreas is to
2 FADH2 and 4 CO2 (from 2 turns, 2 Acetyl CoA from each regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin and glucagon are
molecule of glucose). produced in cell clusters, known as the Islets of
• Glycogen: is a polysaccharide of glucose used as an Langerhans.
energy storage form by the liver and skeletal muscles. • Calcium as a Second Messenger: Normally, intracellular
This is a short energy reserve that can be mobilized calcium levels are low with calcium being sequestered in
quickly. the smooth ER and mitochondria. Upon activation, calcium
• Gluconeogenesis: A metabolic pathway is a series of enters the cell through calcium channels. It is also
chemical reactions that convert an initial molecule into a released from intracellular stores in the smooth ER and the
final product. mitochondria.
• cAMP: Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) is
involved in signal transduction for blood sugar regulation
and lipid metabolism.

06: Tissues and Organ Systems

• Tissue: Cells are organized into tissues within the human
body and, together, tissues make up body organs. 08: Neuronal Structure and Signaling
• Fluid Compartments: Intracellular fluid is of the utmost • Neurons: Neurons have a unique anatomy that facilitates
importance to the cell; in it are the nutrients, electrolytes their function within the nervous system.
and components necessary for cell division and viability. • Soma: nerve cell body of a neuron is similar to that of
The extracellular fluid compartment includes the other cells.
interstitial fluid and the blood plasma. • Connective Tissue: Allow communication with another
• Connective Tissue: Connective tissue is the most neuron, they make up half of the chemical synapse. By
abundant body tissue. It consists of cells and a matrix of spreading around the soma in a tree branch like fashion,
ground substance and fibers. they increase communication potential with the confine of
• Muscle Tissue: Muscle tissue generates the force used by the nervous system.
the axial skeleton for movement. Through the attachment • The Axon: The axon carries the information between
on bones and lever action, muscle provides for neurons to the next dendritic tree.
movements of limbs and the head and neck. • Neurolemma: the presence of the neurolemma or
• Nervous System: The nervous system controls Schwann cell layer around axons permits neuronal repair
movement and function through nerve impulses sent to within the peripheral nervous system.
and from the brain. The nervous system is divided into • Action Potential: An action potential is defined as a
the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous change in the membrane potential of an excitable cell,
system. followed by a return to its resting membrane potential.

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09: The Central Nervous System 11: Sensory Physiology
• Cerebrum: The cerebrum is the most anterior and • Sensory Receptors: Sensory receptors are the initial
superior region of the brain, including the frontal lobes. component of our sensory systems, such as touch and
• Cerebral Cortex: The cerebral cortex is the outer layer vision. They respond to a stimulus and perform sensory
of the brain (2-4mm thick), which folds into sulci and transduction.
surrounds the cerebrum. • Tonic Receptor: tonic receptors adapt slowly to the
• Frontal Lobe: Within the frontal lobe are the following stimulus and, therefore, produce and transmit action
primary regions: (1) Premotor cortex, (2) Motor cortex, potentials over a period of time. An example of a tonic
and (3) Broca’s area – this area of the brain controls the receptor would be a pain receptor.
muscles of the pharynx, larynx and mouth to produce • Organ of Corti: The organ of corti is at the center of
speech in humans. sound and pitch perception. The organ of corti contains the
• Primary Motor Cortex: is responsible for the signals to auditory sensory cells. The organ of corti plays a major
execute movement. It fulfills this role, along with the role in pitch perception. High frequency sounds activate
other brain regions of the motor cortex: (1) posterior the basilar membrane near the oval window. Lower
parietal cortex, (2) premotor cortex, and (3) frequency sounds travel further down the membrane.
supplementary motor area (SMA). • Retina: The retina of the human eye converts light into
• Descending Tracts: The descending tracts convey chemical energy. It is made up of a number of layers that
impulses from the brain into the spinal cord grey matter give rise to the optic nerve. In the center of the macula is
and then out to the periphery. These tracts include: the fovea, which is the most sensitive region of the eye to
Corticospinal tract, Rubrospinal, Tectospinal, light.
Vestibulospinal, Reticulospinal, Anterior Reticulospinal. • Visual Pathway: After the optic chiasma, the majorities
• Reflex Arc: The reflex arc is a multi-neuron conduction of the axons of the optic tract project to and terminate in
pathway, including a receptor, sensory neuron, the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN). Alternatively, some
interneuron or center, efferent or motor neuron and the of the optic tract projects to the colliculus, which then
effector, such as a muscle. directs eye movements towards visual targets. The LGN is
part of the thalamus and it is the primary processing
center for visual information. Visual information is then
relayed to the visual cortex in the occipital lobe.

Vestibular System

12: Muscle Physiology

10: Autonomic Nervous System
• Origin of the muscle: The end of the muscle attached
• Autonomic Nervous System: A branch of peripheral closest to trunk or to more stationary bones.
nervous system which innervates the viscera, the internal • Insertion of the muscle: The more distal end or mobile
organs. attachment.
• Atomic Number: The nervous system located within the • Fatigue: A condition in which muscle is no longer able to
gastrointestinal tract, which is considered a branch of the generate or sustain power.
autonomic nervous system. • Sarcolemma: Plasma membrane of muscle.
• Sympathetic Branch: A branch of motor division of the • Sarcoplasmic reticulum: Specialized endoplasmic
autonomic nervous system. Referred to as the “Fight or reticulum of the muscle.
Flight” system. • Tetanus: State of maximum contraction.
• Parasympathetic Branch: A branch of the motor division • Muscle cramp: A sustained painful contraction of the
of the autonomic nervous system. Referred to as the skeletal muscle.
“Wine and Dine” system. • Isotonic contraction: Any contraction that creates force
• Dual Innervation: most organs of the body are and moves a load.
innervated by both the parasympathetic and sympathetic • Isometric contraction: A contraction that creates force
divisions of the autonomic nervous system. without movement.
Organ Sympathetic Parasympathetic
Heart Increase Decrease
Lungs Increase Decrease
Digestive Decrease Increase
Blood Dilate No change
Pupil Dilate Constrict
Sweating Increase No change
Glands Increase No change
Sexual Increase Increase

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13: Muscles: Mechanisms of Contraction and 15: Blood Pressure and Blood Flow
Neural Movement • Layers of Blood Vessels: The inner lining is known as
• Actin: Thin filament protein. the tunica interna. Next to the tunica interna is a layer of
• Myosin: Thick filament protein that has ATPase activity. smooth muscle called the tunica media. Finally, the outside
• Golgi tendon organs: Receptors found at the junction of layer of connective tissue is the tunica externa.
the tendons and muscle fibers that are responsible for • Resistance: The opposition of the vessels to blood flow.
reflex relaxation. • Velocity: How fast blood will travel past a given point.
• Muscle spindles: Stretch receptors that send information • Flow Rate: Measures how much blood flows past a point
to the brain and spinal cord concerning the length of the in a given time period.
muscle. • Pressure Gradient: Blood flows from an area of higher
• Tropomyosin: Tropomyosin wraps around the actin pressure to an area of lower pressure. In the
filament, blocking the actin-binding site. Troponin cardiovascular system, the high pressure is created by
regulates tropomyosin. heart contraction; therefore, blood flows from heart (high
• Smooth Muscle Membrane: Smooth muscle can have pressure) into the blood vessels (lower pressure).
unstable resting membrane potentials between -40 and - • Capillary Exchange: Molecules move from the blood into
80mV. The unstable membrane potential leads to slow the interstitial fluid primarily by diffusion and transcytosis.
wave potentials, which have cycles of depolarization and Exchange in the capillary can also occur due to bulk flow,
repolarization that may not reach threshold. However, which is mass movement between the blood and
pacemaker potentials have regular depolarization and interstitial fluid. Filtration is the movement out of the
always reach threshold. capillary and absorption is movement into the capillary.
Bulk flow is regulated by hydrostatic pressure and osmotic

Thick Filament


1 2

Thin Filament
Thin filament

14: Cardiovascular Physiology

• Myocardium: Cardiac muscle, made up of two types of
16: Respiratory Physiology
myocardial cells: contractile and pacemaker.
• Atrioventricular valves: Separate the atria from the • Pleural cavity: The pleural cavity (pleura), which is the
ventricles; tricuspid on the right side and mitral on the left space between the ribs and lungs surrounded by pleural
side of the heart. membranes.
• Semilunar valves: Prevent blood pumped out of the • Vocal folds: Voice production occurs primarily in the
heart from returning. larynx, or voice box. Within the voice box is a set of
• Pacemaker cells: Specialized myocardial cells that signal cartilage located at the front of the throat, which contains
myocardial contraction. the vocal folds. The opening and closing of the vocal folds,
• Contractile cells: Myocardial cells that contribute to as air passes through, produces sounds of different
contraction of the heart. quality.
• Graded contraction: The ability of the muscle fiber to • Acid-base Balance: maintain blood pH within the range
vary the amount of force it generates. of 7.35-7.45; as carbon dioxide is an acid, it can affect
• Cardiac Cycle: The cardiac cycle is the period from the blood pH. Because the lungs can alter carbon dioxide
beginning of one heartbeat to the beginning of the next. levels, the lungs are involved in maintaining blood pH
Each cycle has a diastolic phase (cardiac muscle is within the normal range.
relaxed) and systolic phase (cardiac muscle is contracted). • Ventilation: movement of air into and out of the lungs.
• Stroke Volume: is the volume of blood pumped by one • Diaphragm: sheet of muscle below the lungs, which
ventricle in one contraction. It is measured in ml per beat. contracts during inspiration.
• Inspiration: movement of air into the lungs due to
alveoloar pressure being less than atmospheric pressure.
• Expiration: movement of air out of the lungs, due to
alveolar pressure being greater than atmospheric

Gas diffusion depends on partial pressures of the

gases. Partial pressure (P), in a mixture of gases,
equals total gas pressure times the % of the gas.
For example, in Atmospheric Air:
Total pressure at sea level = 760 mm Hg
Partial pressure of Nitrogen = 760(.79) = 79%
Partial pressure of Oxygen = 760(.21)= 21%
Partial pressure of Carbon Dioxide = .04%

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17: Kidney and Nephronal Physiology 19: Digestive Physiology and Nutrition
• Ureter: are hollow, muscular tubes. The filtrate fluid • Mastication: use of tongue, teeth, mouth to break food
drains from the kidneys to the bladder. into smaller pieces.
• Bladder: functions by collecting and storing urine until it • Peristalsis: wave of muscle contraction.
is eliminated from the body. • Digestion: digestion, which involves the breakdown of
• Urethra: is a hollow tube leading from the bladder to the molecules into their component parts, which are
body surface, for the external elimination of urine. chemically separated by enzymes by breaking chemical
• Nephron: There are over 1 million in each kidney. All the bonds.
nephrons drain towards the center of the kidney into the • Microvilli: finger-like projections in small intestine that
collecting duct system. The nephron perfoms almost all of increase absorptive surface area.
the kidneys functions, including reabsorption and secretion • Liver: The liver is divided into 4 lobes: right, left,
of certain solutes and ions. caudate, and quadrate. It is further divided into lobules,
• Minor calyx: receives drainage from nephron. containing sinusoids, which are enlarged spaces for the
• Renal pelvis: gathers fluid from major calyx before processing of blood. The Hepatic Portal System is a unique
draining into ureters. blood supply made up of the hepatic portal vein. It directs
• Vasa recta: blood vessels around Loop of Henle, These blood from the intestines in such a way that substances
vessels function to maintain the gradients necessary for absorbed in the small intestine pass through the liver first.
countercurrent exchange. • Gallbladder: is a small sac on the inferior side of the
• Loop of Henle: The Loop of Henle can be divided into 2 liver. It stores and concentrates bile and, when needed,
functional regions: Descending Limb and the Ascending the bile travels down the common bile duct into the
Limb. In the Descending Limb, fluid travels down the duodenum.
descending limb towards the medulla. In the Ascending
Limb, fluid travels towards the cortex. In this region of the
nephron, Na+ and Cl- are actively transported out of the
limb. This leads to dilute or hypo-osmotic fluid entering
the collecting tubule.

18: Fluid, Electrolyte and Acid-Base Balance 20: Energy Balance and Metabolism
• Osmolality: is a measure of the osmoles of solute per • Calorie: nutritional unit of energy listed on food labels,
kilogram of solvent. An osmole is the unit of measure that scientific unit of energy; amount of heat required to raise
defines the number of moles of a molecule that the temperature of 1 g of water 1 degree Celsius.
contributes to a solution’s osmotic pressure. In other • Catabolism: is the breakdown of substances, which leads
words, for body fluids, it reflects the number of moles of to the release of energy stored in chemical bonds.
Na+, K+ etc. which contribute to the osmotic pressure of • Anabolism: is the process of building of substances; it
the body fluid. requires energy. Catabolic and anabolic processes are
• Hydrostatic and Osmotic Pressure: Hydrostatic linked. In some cases, the energy required for an
pressure is caused by the blood pressure generated by the unfavorable anabolic reaction is provided by the energy
heart beating. Osmotic pressure is caused by Na+ and released from catabolism.
other electrolytes. • Urea cycle: is an essential component of protein
• Body Acidity: There a number of factors that can metabolism. Amino acids have nitrogen groups that can
increase the acidity of the body and blood such as: (1) form ammonia. In the liver, the urea cycle minimizes the
increased intake or decreased excretion of acidic toxic ammonia by metabolizing amino acids into urea.
compounds (2) inadequate breathing (3) impairment of • Gluconeogenesis: process of converting amino acids into
normal metabolism, etc. glucose.
• Metabolic Acidosis: is caused by a decrease in the
ability of the kidneys to excrete acid or the addition of acid
to the body, such as in diabetic ketoacidosis.
• Metabolic Alkalosis: is caused by the addition of alkali
to the body, i.e- ingestion of antacids, or by the loss of
acids such as during vomiting.
• Graded contraction: The ability of the muscle fiber to
vary the amount of force it generates.

Extracellular Fluid (ECF) Intracellular Fluid (ICF)

Cell Membrane

Cations (positively charged Inside cells, cations (positively

molecules): Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+; charged molecules): Ca2+, Mg2+,
and anions (negatively Na+;and anions (negatively
charged molecules): Cl-, charged molecules): Cl-,
HCO-3 and proteins are in HCO-3 and proteins are in
equal concentrations. equal concentrations.

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21: Body’s Defenses – The Immune System 23: Exercise Physiology
• Immune System: is made up of various primary and • 1-repetition maximum (1-RM): maximal amount of
secondary lymphoid organs. These organs include: (1) weight that can be lifted one time; used to determine
Primary lymphoid organs – thymus and bone marrow, and muscular intensity.
(2) Secondary lymphoid organs – tonsils, lymph nodes, • Muscle hypertrophy: increase in muscle size due to
spleen, Peyer’s patches, appendix and lymphatic tissue. strength training; due to larger protein fibers.
• Non-specific Immunity: is the basic resistance to • Fast twitch fiber: large, powerful fibers that fatigue
disease that an individual possesses by virtue of his/her easily; used in sprinting and jumping.
birth. It is the first line of defense against infection. • Slow twitch fiber: small less powerful fibers; fatigue
• Specific Immunity: Destroy invading pathogens and any resistant; used for walking and jogging.
toxic molecules they produce, are highly specific to the • Anticipatory Rise: increase in ventilation before the start
particular pathogen that induced them, can also provide of exercise.
long-lasting protection, and have the ability to distinguish • VO2 maximum: maximum amount of oxygen utilized by
between what is foreign and what is self, which is a the body; measured in mL/kg/min.
fundamental feature of the adaptive immune system. • Anaerobic Threshold: occurs with intense exercise and
• B-cells: are lymphocytes that play a large role in the reliance on anaerobic metabolism; markers are an increase
humoral immune response, and B-cells are activated by in ventilation and blood lactate accumulation.
antigen, which leads to effector B-cell function. • Cardiovascular Response to Exercise: The
• Antibodies: Antibodies or immunoglobulins, in general, cardiovascular system responds to exercise in the following
are composed of four polypeptide chains, two identical ways: (1) increase in cardiac output, for example from
copies each of a light chain (L) and a heavy chain (H). The 5L/min at rest to 20-25L/min, (2) increase in systolic blood
variable region on both the heavy and light chain makes pressure; diastolic pressure doesn't normally increase, (3)
up the antigen-binding site. increase in heart rate, and (4) increase in stroke volume.
• T-cells: Memory T-cells play an important role in
stimulating a heightened immune response to a previously
encountered antigen. Effector T-cells include cytotoxic T-
cells, which target and kill the invading microbe. 90-100% MHR Maximum

80-90% MHR

70-80% MHR

60-70% MHR
Weight Loss

24: Medical Physiology

• Myocardial infarction: also known as a heart attack; due
22: Reproduction and Development to coronary vessel occlusion; ischemia causes death of
• Sex Chromosomes: Each human develops according to a heart muscle; coronary bypass can help manage this.
total of 46 chromosomes, 44 autosomes and 2 sex • Heart arrhythmias: detected with ECG’s; many causes
chromosomes. including heart’s electrical system and electrolyte
• Sex Organ Development: Sex determination in humans imbalances.
takes place around 7-9 weeks of gestation. The Wolffian • COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease;
ducts, which develop in males, and the Mullerian ducts, combination of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema,
which develop in females are under the control of a supplemental oxygen often necessary.
glycoprotein hormone known as Mullerian-inhibiting factor • Pulmonary edema: fluid accumulation in the interstitial
(MIF). space; affects gas exchange.
• Menstrual Cycle: During the first 4-5 days of the • GERD: In Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), the
menstrual cycle, the uterine lining is shed – a process esophageal sphincter does not close completely. Acid in
called menstruation. This takes place during the follicular the stomach is then able to enter the esophagus. This
phase. This process is controlled by the drop in produces a burning sensation or “heartburn”.
progesterone from the end of the previous luteal phase • Cervical cancer: 3rd most common female reproductive
and the rise in FSH. cancer; usually assiated with human papillomavirus (HPV)
• Fertilization: Inside the fallopian tube, the spermatozoa infection; vaccine is now available.
and ovum meet. Next, the spermatozoa binds to the • Prostate hyperplasia and cancer: hyperplasia is
extracellular matrix surrounding the ovum, known as the common in men over age 50; difficulty urinating is a
zona pellucida. Then the acrosome reaction takes place, symptom; PSA test- prostate specific antigen is a blood
which prevents other sperm from fertilizing the ovum. test used to determine levels of an antigen associated with
prostate cancer.

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