Dynamic Equilibrium

  • Life is dependent upon availability of an energy source and raw materials that are used in the basic enzyme-controlled biochemical processes of living organisms. These biochemical processes occur within a narrow range of conditions. Because organisms are continually exposed to changes in their external and internal environments, they must continually monitor and respond to these changes. Responses to change can range in complexity from simple activation of a cell chemical process to elaborate learned behavior. The result of these responses is called homeostasis, a "dynamic equilibrium" or "steady state" which keeps the internal environment within certain limits. Organisms have a diversity of homeostatic feedback mechanisms that detect deviations from the normal state and take corrective actions to return their systems to the normal range. These mechanisms maintain the physical and chemical aspects of the internal environment within narrow limits that are favorable for cell activities. Failure of these control mechanisms can result in disease or even death.