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The Cell

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The Cell





The Cell Anatomy


The cell is the basic unit of the human body. Cells are very small with the largest cell being no bigger then a strand of hair. Cell have many functions and are extremely versatile. Some cells are used as sheets to form skin whilst other cells can store or generate energy in musles or fat tissue. All cells have the same characteristics which include a nucleus, and a mitochondria which is the fuel house for the cell (Roberts, 2010).


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Cell Types


There are more than 200 different types of cell in the body. A cells fate is largely determined before birth influenced by its position in the body and the cocktail of chemical messengers that it is exposed to in that environment. During the early stages of growth, stem cells begin to differentiate into three layers of more specialised cells called the ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm (Daniels et al, 2007). Cells of the ectoderm form the skin and nails, brain and spinal cord. Cells of the endoderm form the digestive tract, the respiratory lining and glandular organs including the liver and pancreas. Lastly the mesoderm cells form muscles, circulatory system and the excretory system including the kidneys (Roberts, 2010).


 sperm cell             adipose            nerve

 Sperm Cells                                                     Fat Cells                                      Nerve Cells


Cell Metabolism


Cell metabolism occurs when individual cells break down nutrients to generate energy for building proteins or nucleic acid. Glucose is the primary fuel that cells use to generate energy and converts the energy into a compound call adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The process of converting energy into ATP occurs in structures call mitochondria through a process called cellular respiration. Once ATP is developed it needs to be then converted into adenoside diphosphate (ADP) which allows the energy to be released into the body for the muscles, organs and tissues to use.




Cell Transport


Cell transport of materials between cell membranes occur regularly. The types of materials transported include fuel for energy and amino acids which are used to build protein. The cell membrane is made of phospholipids and proteins that help with transporting materials. Cells have three main methods of transport. These methods include diffusion, facilitated diffusion and active transport (Roberts, 2010). Diffusion occurs when molecules passively cross the membrane from areas of high to low concentration. Water and oxygen both cross by diffusion. Facilitated diffusion occurs when a carrier protein binds with a moecule outside the cell and then changes shape and ejects the molecule into the cell. Lastly active transport binds to a receptor site on the cell membrane, triggering a protein which changes into a channel that molecules travel through (Roberts, 2010).


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Daniels, P et al. (2007) Body: The Complete Human - How it grows, How it works and how to keep it healthy and strong. National Geographic Society USA.


Roberts, DR A. (2010) The Complete Human Body: The definitive visual guide: DK Publishing - New York.



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