Chemical disequilibrium

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Body fluid compartments are in a state of chemical disequilbrium, this is due to active transport of solutes which creates the disequilibrium and the cell membranes which maintain the chemical disequilibrium. However water can move freely across the membrane and therefore our body fluid compartments are in a state of osmotic equilibrium[1]. There are higher concentrations of potassium and calcium inside the cells (in the intracellular fluid) than outside the cells (in the extracellular fluid) and there are higher concentrations of sodium and chloride in the extracellular fluid than in the intracellular fluid[2]. There are also proteins in the blood plasma of the extracellular fluid which are too large to diffuse through the capillary walls. The distribution of these solutes leads to the chemical disequilibrium of the body fluid compartments.


  1. Human Physiology: An integrated Approach, 4th Ed, San Francisco, Benjamin Cummings, 2006
  2. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 6th Ed, New York, Garland Science, 2015

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