Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life and The Pulsating Human Cell

Come to think about it, the pulsating human cell is the most fascinating of all elements. It's the smallest unit of life, yet the most significant. Without cells nothing will live that lives. I've been fascinated with the human cell for some time now, and I hope as you read along you will be too.

There are about 37 trillion cells in the human body, the majority measuring between 10 to 20 mm in size, seen only under a microscope. The pulsating cell is what makes physical life possible. Each cell has an outer semi-permeable boundary called the plasma membrane that regulates what substances enter and leave the cell.

Cell types are identified by their tissues of origin. Broadly speaking tissues are classified into three categories, all of which originate from the three primitive germ layers of the embryo. They are:

The endoderm forms the epithelium, which is the tissue that lines the cavities and surfaces of the pharynx, respiratory tract, digestive tract and urethra.

The ectoderm forms the epithelial tissues of the nails, hair, glands of the skin, nervous system, external sense organs, and the mucous membrane of the mouth and anus.

The last of these tissues is the mesoderm. It forms the connective tissues, bones, cartilage, muscle, blood and blood vessels, lymphatics, lymphoid organs, notochord, pleura, pericardium, peritoneum, kidneys and gonads.

The cytoplasm is the interior of the cell enclosed by the plasma membrane. It consists mainly of water, space for the nucleus, the various organelles, salts, dissolved gases and nutrients. The cytoplasm is the protected area where all chemical reactions for maintaining and propagating the cell occur.

The nucleus is the command and control center where the genetic information of the cell is stored in the DNA. The nucleus uses this information to communicate with the organelles in the cytoplasm to maintain and create new cells by mitosis, a process where the DNA is copied such that there are two exact copies of the genetic information for each of the daughter cells.

Command information secreted from the nucleus through special pores are transcribed on messenger RNA to connects with ribosomes in the cytoplasm.

The ribosomes are attached to the endoplasmic reticulum which provide a surface area for the assembling of amino acid into protein. In the cytoplasm, the messenger RNA or mRNA connects with ribosomes to begin the formation of protein.

The endoplasmic reticulum is the working area within the cell. It is of two types, the rough or granular endoplasmic reticulum where the ribosomes are located, and the smooth endoplasmic reticulum where chemical reaction like the synthesis of lipid occurs.

The golgi apparatus is the sorting and transportation system in the cell. After proteins are made, the golgi apparatus sorts them into vesicles to be transported to locations in the cell where they are needed to influence chemical reactions, or repair organelles and the membrane of the cell when needed.

Waste from cellular activities, bacteria and foreign materials in the cytoplasm  are disposed of by the lysosomes and peroxisomes organelles. The lysosomes contain acid and digestive enzymes that breakdown foreign materials, cellular debris and dead organelles using the beta-oxidation process. The peroxisomes breakdown fatty acid molecules and rid the cell of toxic peroxides.

Cellular activities require energy, which is provided by the mitochondria in the form of adenosine triphophate (ATP). By the digestive process, foods are broken down to simpler molecules such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The sugar from carbohydrates are transferred to the mitochondria, where they are combined with oxygen to produce energy to enable the cell to carry out the vital functions of repairing and building tissues to keep the body healthy.

With these few words, I hope I have brought the pulsating human cell from obscurity into its rightful place into the spotlight. We are what our cells are. When they malfunction we become sick. How healthy and happy we are, depends on the level of care we provide our cells.

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