Studies in the Osteopathic
Basic Principles: Volume
Louisa Burns, M.S., D.O., D.Sc.O.
NORMAL FUNCTION IS ESSENTIAL TO NORMAL STRUCTURE.
So far as the life history of the unicellular organisms is concerned, their
only function seems to be to eat, to grow until the ratio between the assimilative
surface and the mass of the food-demanding protoplasm renders further growth
impossible, then to divide into smaller cells which in turn eat, grow,
and divide, and so on. In the economy of nature, there may be functions
of races, as in our own bodies there are functions of parts, but this aspect
of the subject does not concern us in this connection.
these unicellular organisms, and among the simpler types of the multicellular
animals, any lack of function is very quickly followed by a loss or change
of structure. Under ordinary conditions, the normal cell in its normal
environment does not fail to perform its normal function, nor does it exceed
the normal limits of its metabolism. But under experimental conditions,
factors which increase, decrease or change the activities of a normal cell
may be employed, and the effects noted. Increased rest may be forced
in the absence of light, or by lowering the temperature, or by decreasing
the amount of food, water or air in a degree not incompatible with the
maintenance of a fairly normal life. Increased activity may be secured
by increasing the temperature slightly, by giving artificial light at night,
by the use of electricity, by increasing the supply of food, and by increasing
the oxygen content of the air. Other methods of especial application
are employed also. Changed forms of activity, triangular cell division,
abnormal forms of growth, abnormal metabolic products, may be forced by
the use of more abnormal methods of stimulation or of restraining cell
activity. The use of various salt solutions for this purpose has
resulted in increasing the general knowledge concerning cell activity in
many directions. The experiments of Loeb upon sea-urchins are of
interest in this connection, as are also the experiments demonstrating
the myogenic factors in the contraction of the heart and the non-striated
cell division, and other abnormalities of karyokinesis, result from the
use of abnormal stimulants to increase or change the processes of cell
division. If a culture containing fish eggs which are actively growing
is violently shaken, many of the eggs will be killed outright, some will
remain uninjured, and there will be some which will continue to grow, but
because of their injuries will undergo the subsequent stages of growth
in an abnormal manner,--the cells divide in a triangular or even a quadrangular
manner, a second mitosis will be initiated before the completion of the
first. Deformed cells result form these conditions, there are changes
in the staining reactions, and other evidences of serious malfunction.
cell division of the malignant growths, carcinoma, sarcoma, etc., display
abnormalities of karyokinesis similar to those found present in the cells
of the simpler animals which have been subjected to various forms of abnormal
stimulation, or to the action of toxins, or to physical changes which injure
without killing them.
changes in the structure of the cells which are affected by adverse influences
are perhaps in part due to actual physical injury, but in other instances,
where the stimulant has been very slightly different from those normally
active,--as, for example, a very slight increase in the oxygen supply,
or of sunlight, or of very dilute non-toxic salts,--the abnormal effect
seems to be at first one of function, which itself is a change of molecular
structure of the living protoplasm, and the series of chemical changes
which occur therein. The chemical configuration of the molecule determine
the nature of its chemical reactions, the quality of the end products of
its metabolism, and its staining reactions.
the phenomena of karyokinesis are essentially chemical or not remains to
be determined by further investigations. It is evident, from the
work done, that these phenomena are rendered abnormal by both chemical
and physical stimulation, and under other conditions wherein the etiology
metabolism of the cell may be rendered abnormal by a lack of the normal
quantity of food. In this case, the unicellular organism suffers
merely progressive starvation and death. The cell which is a part
of an organ of the body suffers also from starvation, but it does not suffer
alone. The relations of the different cell groups of the body have
been somewhat fully discussed in another chapter. In starvation the
cell fails in growth, and therefore fails in normal reproduction.
The starvation may itself initiate reproduction, and the daughter cells
are then smaller than normal. In some of the unicellular organisms,
the lack of food or water initiates a condition of rest. The rest
period may be spent within a membranous envelope, by which evaporation
from the protoplasm is hindered. These facts indicate that under
normal conditions changes in the function of the cell which answer environal
changes may themselves be a cause of changing structure.
a cell is stimulated to increased metabolism by methods which are not very
different from their normal condition, they usually undergo a series of
changes which vary very little for all forms of life. The deutoplasmic
granules disappear, the protoplasm becomes clear, the vacuoles increase
in size if any are present, or are formed, if they were not present already,
the nucleus becomes pushed to one side, the protoplasm swells, and then
becomes shrunken. These changes occur with some variations in almost
all cells subjected to over stimulation.
changes which occur in the environment of any cell are its only source
of energy. The cell is able to avail itself of this energy only under
certain conditions, which vary with cells of different forms of structure.
For the most part, animal cells derive energy chiefly from the oxidation
of their food substances. If their environment offers food but no
oxygen, they are unable to use the food. If their environment offers
oxygen but no food, or if water is lacking, or if a proper amount of heat
be not present, the cell is unable to avail itself of those favorable factors
which are present. In these cases, the cell structure suffers a more
or less rapid disintegration and death. Whatever may be the cause
of any malfunction on the part of any cell, the ultimate effect is a structural
injury to the cell.
the cells which make up the organs of the body, the same principles apply.
In bodies so complex as these, each organ depends more or less completely
upon the normal activity of all other organs. It thus occurs that organs
which are themselves normal, so far as our present methods of investigation
determine, as subjected to the influences of other organs which are not
quite normal, and the normal organ is thereby forced to act in a manner
somewhat different from that to which it is accustomed. This
condition occurs in efforts at compensation and adaptation. The series
of events as a part of the life history of the individual or the race is
on the whole beneficial, else would it never have persisted. The
over work which is forced upon any organ, produces certain changes in the
structure of its cells. These changes are characteristic of the cells
affected, as long as the over work does not occasion actual exhaustion.
In this case, the structural changes in the tissue cells are those already
mentioned as following the fatigue of the unicellular organism.
a nerve cell be stimulated somewhat in excess of the normal degree, the
substance which represents the potential energy of the cell (probably the
precursors of Nisslís substance) become partially disintegrated.
The exhaustion of the cell is accompanied by their complete disappearance.
If the over work is continued for a time, the substances which are used
up by the cell are replaced from the nutrient lymph with more and more
celerity. These quickly formed substances are the more unstable,
and the neuron threshold is proportionately lowered. The molecular
structure of the cell is thus changed by stimulation which represents an
amount scarcely beyond the bounds of the normal. The progressive
differentiation of the neuron systems in development and education is a
manifestation of the principle, that the structure of an organ or cell
varies in accordance with the demands made upon its function.
muscle cell which is caused to act in a somewhat increased manner endures
also characteristic structural changes. Its cells increase in size,
and in many instances also in number. The efficiency of the muscle
also increases, as is the case with the nerve cell. This increase
in size and function is a normal characteristic of muscle, though under
circumstances which are clearly abnormal the hypertrophy may attain a degree
which is pathological.
Function and Differentiation.
cells of the body react to unusual demands in a characteristic manner.
It is evident that the structural changes which occur as a result of functional
changes are a factor in differentiation and development, in the adaptation
of the cell and the body to changing environment, in the manifestations
of disease symptoms as well as in recovery from abnormal conditions.
Effects of Deficient Mental Function.
A. The lack of function of the organs of the human body may be due
to failure of the normal mental stimulation. The education of an
individual may be so much at fault that he will fail to make efficient
use of the energy which is offered him by his environment. The normal
brain cells in their normal function incite the individual to rational
endeavor, but because of irrational training, not every one replies to
the impulses of the normal brain in a normal manner. The impulses
which incite to normal endeavor are answered by compelled inactivity, or
by forced efforts at pleasure; the impulses which incite to normal rest
are answered by further stimulation. These abnormal reactions are
the result of faulty education. They produce structural changes in
the cells of the bodies, and these structural changes may be a fairly successful
effort at adaptation to the abnormal environment, or they may be unsuccessful
and so result in a pathological condition.
which derives less than its full complement of energy from its environment fails
in the work and the joy of life; the body which derives less than its full complement
of energy from its environment fails in its possibilities of development.