7.7 Interactions of Organ Systems
Created by CK-12 Foundation
Figure 7.7.1 Everyone on a baseball team has a special job.
Every player on a baseball team has a special job. In the Figure 7.7.1 collage, each player has their part of the infield or outfield covered in case the ball comes their way. Other players on the team cover different parts of the field, or they pitch or catch the ball. Playing baseball clearly requires teamwork. In that regard, the human body is like a baseball team. All of the organ systems of the human body must work together as a team to keep the body alive and well. Teamwork within the body begins with communication.
Communication Among Organ Systems
Communication among is vital if they are to work together as a team. They must be able to respond to each other and change their responses as needed to keep the body in balance. Communication among organ systems is controlled mainly by the and the .
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the that controls involuntary functions. The autonomic nervous system, for example, controls heart rate, blood flow, and digestion. You don’t have to tell your heart to beat faster or to consciously squeeze muscles to push food through the digestive system. You don’t have to even think about these functions at all! The autonomic nervous system orchestrates all the signals needed to control them. It sends messages between parts of the nervous system, as well as between the nervous system and other organ systems via chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
The endocrine system is the system of that secrete directly into the bloodstream. Once in the , endocrine hormones circulate to cells everywhere in the body. The endocrine system itself is under control of the nervous system via a part of the brain called the . The hypothalamus secretes hormones that travel directly to cells of the , which is located beneath it. The pituitary gland is the master gland of the endocrine system. Most of its hormones either turn on or turn off other. For example, if the pituitary gland secretes thyroid-stimulating hormone, the hormone travels through the circulation to the thyroid gland, which is stimulated to secrete thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone then travels to cells throughout the body, where it increases their metabolism.
Examples of Organ System Interactions
An increase in cellular metabolism requires more . Cellular respiration is a good example of organ system interactions, because it is a basic life process that occurs in all living .
Cellular respiration is the intracellular process that breaks down glucose with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and energy in the form of molecules. It is the process by which cells obtain usable energy to power other cellular processes. Which organ systems are involved in cellular respiration? The needed for cellular respiration comes from the via the . The oxygen needed for cellular respiration comes from the also via the cardiovascular system. The carbon dioxide produced in cellular respiration leaves the body by the opposite route. In short, cellular respiration requires — at a minimum — the digestive, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.
The well-known is a good example of how the and control other organ system responses. The fight-or-flight response begins when the nervous system perceives sudden danger, as shown in the Figure 7.7.2 diagram. The brain sends a message to the endocrine system (via the pituitary gland) for the adrenal glands to secrete the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones flood the circulation and affect other organ systems throughout the body, including the cardiovascular, urinary, sensory, and digestive systems. Specific responses include increased heart rate, bladder relaxation, tunnel vision, and a shunting of blood away from the digestive system and toward the muscles, brain, and other vital organs needed to fight or flee.
The people playing baseball in the opening collage (Figure 7.7.1) are using multiple organ systems in this voluntary activity. Their are focused on observing and preparing to respond to the next play. Their other systems are being controlled by the . The players are using the , , , and . Can you explain how each of these organ systems is involved in playing baseball?
Feature: Reliable Sources
Teamwork among organ systems allows the human organism to work like a finely tuned machine — at least, it does until one of the organ systems fails. When that happens, other organ systems interacting in the same overall process will also be affected. This is especially likely if the affected system plays a controlling role in the process. An example is type 1 diabetes. This disorder occurs when the pancreas does not secrete the endocrine hormone . Insulin normally is secreted in response to an increasing level of in the blood, and it brings the level of glucose back to normal by stimulating body cells to take up insulin from the blood.
Learn more about type 1 diabetes. Use several reliable Internet sources to answer the following questions:
- In type 1 diabetes, what causes the to fail to produce insulin?
- If type 1 diabetes is not controlled, which organ systems are affected by high blood glucose levels? What are some of the specific effects?
- How can blood glucose levels be controlled in patients with type 1 diabetes?
- The human body’s organ systems must work together to keep the body alive and functioning normally, which requires communication among systems. This communication is controlled by the and . The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary body functions, such as heart rate and digestion. The endocrine system secretes hormones into the blood that travel to body cells and influence their activities.
- is a good example of organ system interactions, because it is a basic life process that happens in all living cells. It is the intracellular process that breaks down glucose with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and energy. Cellular respiration requires the interaction of the , , and systems.
- The is a good example of how the and systems control other organ system responses. It is triggered by a message from the brain to the endocrine system and prepares the body for flight or a fight. Many organ systems are stimulated to respond, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.
- Playing baseball — or doing other voluntary physical activities — may involve the interaction of nervous, muscular, skeletal, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems.
7.7 Review Questions
- What is the autonomic nervous system?
- How do the autonomic nervous system and endocrine system communicate with other organ systems so the systems can interact?
- Explain how the brain communicates with the endocrine system.
- What is the role of the pituitary gland in the endocrine system?
- Identify the organ systems that play a role in cellular respiration.
- How does the hormone adrenaline prepare the body to fight or flee? What specific physiological changes does it bring about?
- Explain the role of the muscular system in digesting food.
- Describe how three different organ systems are involved when a player makes a particular play in baseball, such as catching a fly ball.
- What are two types of molecules that the body uses to communicate between organ systems?
- Explain why hormones can have such a wide variety of effects on the body.
7.7 Explore More
3D Medical Animation – Peristalsis in Large Intestine/Bowel ||
©Animated Biomedical Productions (ABP), 2013.
Adrenaline: Fight or Flight Response, Henk van ‘t Klooster, 2013.
Fight or Flight Response, Bozeman Science, 2012.
- Baseball positions by Michael J on Wikimedia Commons is used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.de) license.
- US Navy 040229-N-8629D-070 photo by US Navy‘s Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Brett A. Dawson on Wikimedia Commons is released into the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain).
- David Ortiz batter’s box by Albert Yau/ SecondPrint Productions on Flickr is used under a CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.es) license.
- Fenway-from Legend’s Box by Jared Vincent on Wikipedia is used under a CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en) license.
The_Fight_or_Flight_Response by Jvnkfood (original), converted to PNG and reduced to 8-bit by Pokéfan95 on Wikimedia Commons is used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en) license.
Animated Biomedical Productions. (2013, January 30). 3D Medical animation – Peristalsis in large intestine/bowel || ©ABP. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujr0UAbyPS4&feature=youtu.be
Bozeman Science. (2012, January 9). Fight or flight response. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2GywoS77qc&feature=youtu.be
Henk van ‘t Klooster. (2013). Adrenaline: Fight or flight response. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBnBTkcr6No&t=4s
Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Type 1 diabetes. MayoClinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20353011
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, July 22). Thyroid-stimulating hormone. In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Thyroid-stimulating_hormone&oldid=968942540
A group of organs that work together to perform one or more functions. Each does a particular job in the body, and is made up of certain tissues.
A division of the peripheral nervous system that controls involuntary activities.
The body system which acts as a chemical messenger system comprising feedback loops of the hormones released by internal glands of an organism directly into the circulatory system, regulating distant target organs. In humans, the major endocrine glands are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands.
The highly complex body system of an animal that coordinates its actions and sensory information by transmitting signals to and from different parts of its body. The nervous system detects environmental changes that impact the body, then works in tandem with the endocrine system to respond to such events.
A group of cells in an animal's body that synthesizes substances (such as hormones) for release into the bloodstream (endocrine gland) or into cavities inside the body or its outer surface (exocrine gland).
A hormone is a signaling molecule produced by glands in multicellular organisms that target distant organs to regulate physiology and behavior.
A body fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. In vertebrates, it is composed of blood cells suspended in blood plasma.
A part of the brain that secretes hormones and connects the brain with the endocrine system.
The master gland of the endocrine system that secretes many hormones, the majority of which regulate other endocrine glands.
Any gland of the endocrine system, which is the system of glands that releases hormones directly into the blood.
A set of metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
The smallest unit of life, consisting of at least a membrane, cytoplasm, and genetic material.
A complex organic chemical that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells, e.g. muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, and chemical synthesis. Found in all forms of life, ATP is often referred to as the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer.
Glucose (also called dextrose) is a simple sugar with the molecular formula C6H12O6. Glucose is the most abundant monosaccharide, a subcategory of carbohydrates. Glucose is mainly made by plants and most algae during photosynthesis from water and carbon dioxide, using energy from sunlight.
A body system including a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs of the digestive system.
Refers to the body system consisting of the heart, blood vessels and the blood. Blood contains oxygen and other nutrients which your body needs to survive. The body takes these essential nutrients from the blood.
The body system responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The primary organs of the respiratory system are the lungs, which carry out this exchange of gases as we breathe.
An involuntary human body response mediated by the nervous and endocrine systems that prepares the body to fight or flee from perceived danger.
division of the peripheral nervous system that controls involuntary activities
The body system responsible for the movement of the human body. Attached to the bones of the skeletal system are about 700 named muscles that make up roughly half of a person's body weight. Each of these muscles is a discrete organ constructed of skeletal muscle tissue, blood vessels, tendons, and nerves.
The body system composed of bones and cartilage and performs the following critical functions for the human body: supports the body. The skeletal system facilitates movement, protects internal organs, and produces blood cells.
A hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use.