Homeostasis Throughout the Body
Each body system contributes to the homeostasis of other systems and of the entire organism. No system of the body works in isolation, and the well-being of the person depends upon the well-being of all the interacting body systems. A disruption within one system generally has consequences for several additional body systems. Here are some brief explanations of how various body systems contribute to the maintenance of homeostasis:
The nervous system, along with the endocrine system, serves as the primary control center of the body working below the level of consciousness. For example, the hypothalamus of the brain is where the body's "thermostat" is found. The hypothalamus also stimulates the pituitary gland to release various hormones that control metabolism and development of the body. The sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the nervous system alternatively stimulate or inhibit various bodily responses (such as heart rate, breathing rate, etc) to help maintain proper levels. It also controls contractions like the arrector pili muscles (involved in thermoregulation) and skeletal muscles, which in addition to moving the body, also cause bone thickening and maintenance, which affects bone composition
The endocrine system consists of glands which secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Each hormone has an effect on one or more target tissues. In this way the endocrine system regulates the metabolism and development of most body cells and body systems. To be more specific, the Endocrine system has sex hormones that can activate sebaceous glands, development of mammary glands, alter dermal blood flow and release lipids from adipocytes and MSH can stimulate melanocytes on our skin. Our bone growth is regulated by several hormones, and the endocrine system helps with the mobilization of calcitonin and calcium
The integumentary system is involved in protecting the body from invading microbes (mainly by forming a thick impenetrable layer), regulating body temperature through sweating and vasodilation, or shivering and piloerection (goose bumps), and regulating ion balances in the blood. Stimulation of mast cells also produce changes in blood flow and capillary permeability which can effect the blood flow in the body and how it is regulated. It also helps synthesize vitamin D which interacts with calcium and phosphorus absorption needed for bone growth and maintenance for example if we ever broke a bone and it needs repair.
The skeletal system serves as an important mineral reserve. For example, if blood levels of calcium or magnesium are low and the minerals are not available in the diet, they will be taken from the bones. On the other hand the skeletal system provides Calcium needed for all muscle contractions. Lymphocytes and other cells relating to the immune response are produced and stored in the bone marrow. The skeletal system aids in protection of the nervous system, endocrine organs, chest and pelvic regions - all of these are vital organs.
The muscular system is largely responsible for maintaining body temperature through heat production. It also contributes to blood glucose balance by storing energy as glycogen. Indirectly it contributes to the well-being of the organism by simply allowing a person to move about (to find and consume food, find shelter from weather extremes, etc.) by having our skin intact to muscles help us with our facial expressions. In the nervous system it helps monitor body position. Muscles provide us with protecting our endocrine glands and digestive organs.
The cardiovascular system, in addition to needing to maintain itself within certain levels, plays a role in maintenance of other body systems by transporting hormones (heart secretes ANP and BNP) and nutrients (oxygen, EPO to bones,etc.), taking away waste products, and providing all living body cells with a fresh supply of oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. Homeostasis is disturbed if the cardiovascular or lymphatic systems are not functioning correctly.
The lymphatic system has three principal roles. First is the maintenance of blood and tissue volume. Excess fluid that leaves the capillaries when under pressure would build up and cause edema. Secondly, the lymphatic system absorbs fatty acids and triglycerides from fat digestion so that these components of digestion do not enter directly into the blood stream. Third, the lymphatic system is involved in defending the body against invading microbes, and the immune response.
The respiratory system works in conjunction with the cardiovascular system to provide oxygen to cells within every body system for cellular metabolism. The respiratory system also removes carbon dioxide. Since CO2 is mainly transported in the plasma as bicarbonate ions, which act as a chemical buffer, the respiratory system also helps maintain proper blood pH levels a fact that is very important for homeostasis.
Without a regular supply of energy and nutrients from the digestive system all body systems would soon suffer. The digestive system absorbs organic substances, vitamins, ions, and water that are needed all over the body. In the skin the digestive tract provides lipids for storage in the subcutaneous layer. Note that food undergoes three types of processes in the body: digestion, absorption, and elimination.
Toxic nitrogenous wastes accumulate as proteins and nucleic acids are broken down and used for other purposes. The urinary system rids the body of these wastes. The urinary system is also directly involved in maintaining proper blood volume (and indirectly blood pressure) and ion concentration within the blood. One other contribution is that the kidneys produce a hormone (erythropoietin) that stimulates red blood cell production. The kidneys also play an important role in maintaining the correct water content to of the body and the correct salt composition of extracellular fluid.
The Reproductive System is unique in that it does little to contribute to the homeostasis of the organism. Rather than being tied to the maintenance of the organism, the reproductive system relates to the maintenance of the species. Having said that, the sex hormones do have an effect on other body systems, and an imbalance can lead to various disorders (e.g. a woman whose ovaries are removed early in life is at much higher risk of osteoporosis).