This animation depicts the process of maintaining homeostasis in the body through hormonal negative feedback mechanisms. An analogy is made between thermostat temperature regulation in a home to the hormonal control of sugar levels within the bloodstream.
Homeostasis is a state of balance inside the body, where the body systems work together to keep it functioning normally. The endocrine system keeps this internal balancing act going by releasing chemicals called hormones. The release of the hormones is controlled by negative feedback mechanisms.
A negative feedback mechanism works something like a thermostat in your home. A thermostat helps maintain a constant temperature, called the normal range. When the temperature rises beyond the normal range, the thermostat turns on the air conditioner. Eventually the air conditioner restores the temperature to the normal range. This process is called negative feedback. It starts with a normal range, goes beyond the normal range, and then back to normal again.
An example of how negative feedback works in the body can be demonstrated by the endocrine system' s controls over the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that maintains a normal amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Shortly after eating a candy bar, tiny sugar molecules enter the bloodstream raising the blood sugar levels. In response, the pancreas secretes the insulin into the bloodstream. Now, the sugar molecules move out of the bloodstream and into the cells of the skeletal muscles, fat and liver. In turn, the blood sugar levels return to normal.
Reviewed last on: 9/19/2008
Robert Cooper, MD, Endocrinology Specialist and Chief of Medicine, Holyoke Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.