Fundamental Concepts of Human Disease

Basic Concepts of Human Disease

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Did you know that every organic or physical disease can essentially be determined by studying the human cell?  There are more than 200 different types of cells in the  human body, and all together, the human body is comprised of literally, billions of cells. So in a word, the cell is essentially a biological, dynamic- “machine” with a principle operation to keep the human being functioning through a concept known as “homeostasis.”  (Definition of Machine as used here: an assembly of interconnected components arranged to transmit or modify force in order to perform useful work). Cells group together to form different types of tissues such as epithelial, stromal (muscle, bone, fibrous connective tissue, cartilage, blood tissue), and neural tissues.  What’s so amazing about this human body composition is how the different types of tissues are arranged in layers, essentially from external outer covering (epithelial) to middle covering (stromal tissue and accessory structures), to inner covering (motor/neural covering), and to internal outer covering or support structure/attachment structure (adventitial stromal tissue) with such an arrangement that is set up to keep the tissues working collectively to  actively respond to its outer world and for continuation of survival of the human organism.  These tissues group together to form different types of organs (heart, lung, kidney, liver, colon, small intestine, skin, pancreas, etc) to create eleven (11) different types of organ SYSTEMS (cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, integumentary, lymphatic and immune, endocrine, reproductive, genitourinary, skeletal, muscular, and nervous) known collectively as the human being.

Back to the cell, which is essentially how we study disease.  If all components of the cell are intact and functioning appropriately  from birth to death, then human disease can not be manifested.  But of course, we know that this is not the case.  So the cell, being created from a union of  male and female sex cells, goes through life challenges, either from genetic mishaps, abnormal congenital changes,mere aging processes, adverse environmental influences such as pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, etc), chemical injuries (medication, tobacco use, iilicit drugs, alcohol, certain dietary substance, etc), or physical insults, all of which MANIFEST AS HUMAN DISEASES. (please refer to Our Archival Section: Classifying Human Diseases).

A Cartoon Image of the HUMAN CELL, Three dimensional. Remember: every matter that exits, including human cells, is essentially comprised of different chemical structures.  When it all boils down, studying chemical structures of the cells lead to accurate diagnosis of many types of  diseases. Nanotechnology is rapidly advancing into how we study disease of the human cell leading to faster and more precise diagnoses.Cell membrane; the principle source for the cell's communication with its outer environment! This is where it all begins in studying Human Disease, i.e. obtaining information about the cell! AND, analyzing chemical structures that are illustrated in the above image allows one to determine human disease!!!!

Example of an Epithelial Cell (Squamous Cell) as viewed under the microscope; the epithelial cell is covered with bacteria (giving the cell a hazy-appearance), as this is an example of Bacterial Vaginosis (sample taken from a Pap smear).  This patient was also diagnosed with High-grade Squamous Intra-epithelial Lesion (HSIL), confirmed by Positive High risk HPV testing, and Cervical Tissue, Biopsy.  Notice the smaller squamous cells scattered in the background with increased N:C ratio, nuclear hypercrhomasis, and irregular nuclear contours

The cell has basic structure and function.  Most cells are comprised of a cell barrier (known as cell, plasma membrane), cytoplasm/cytosol with different organelles (small intracellular units used to synthesize, package, and transport proteins, destroy foreign substances absorbed by the cell, generate cellular energy, or to simply carry different compositions of the cell to various parts, or even moving the cell itself, etc), and then the nucleus where DNA/RNA are synthesized through a complex, collaborate process, as well as the central operation for producing new cells.  Essentially the cell uses different proteins to carry out its day to day function. In fact, proteins are most important because they give a cell its structure, regulate the internal and external cellular chemical compositions through enzymatic reaction, and allow the cell to communicate with other cells through cell-membrane, cytoplasmic, and nuclear receptors.   Now what’s most important is the cell’s ability to communicate and respond to its outer environment.  The cell is essentially an electrical biological entity, i.e. using electrolytes like sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium, among other chemical compounds to generative an electrical potential gradient and dynamic electrical activity about its cell membrane  barrier.  In fact, without this electrical dynamic potential gradient, i.e static 0- potential gradient, then the cell is DEAD. Now cells respond to its environment or communicate with other cells through chemical activities about its plasma membrane which houses receptors, the activities of which may originate through other electrical activity (neural, motor, etc), or through chemical substances secreted from other cells (cytokines or hormones) or substances secreted by invading pathogens.

The cell is extremely resilient, which means that it has to lose more than 50% of its cellular activity before it is rendered pathological or diseased, and thus why there is such as remarkable reserve capability for certain types of cells.

We investigate and analyze the pathology of the cell (cytopathology/histopathology) by observing the cellular structure with regards to the number of cells, sizes and shapes of cells, in relationship to nucleus or other cellular components or other cells (typically as viewed under a light microscope).  We also investigate and analyze the pathology of the cell (pathophysiology) by what is secreted by the cell or  that which is leaked out of the cell into the blood stream or body fluids during cell injury or cell death, such as enzymes/proteins (specific to liver, or kidney, prostate, pancreas, gallbladder, adrenal, thyroid, specific tumor cell, or cardiac muscle, for example), fats, other type proteins, carbohydrates (sugar/glucose), and electrolytes, etc.  We investigate the secretion or leakage of these chemical components of the cell by using high tech, typically automated analyzer-machines in the clinical laboratory which are under National and International standards, guidelines and quality control/quality assurance systems.  This essentially gives us clues about the human cell in disease that would be needed in drawing a final conclusion for medical treatment and management, which is correlated with the clinical presentation, i.e. what the patient states as symptoms or what is observed through the physical examination, imaging studies, other clinical studies, etc.

We use different types of medications to prevent certain types of diseases and/or illnesses, as well as to assist cellular function when there is a decline in cellular activity as due to cellular injury  or cellular death for example.  Because of the degree of natural repair and healing which is apart of homeostasis-created through appropriately functioning organ systems, cellular injury and/or cellular death may go unrecognized clinically until a specific disease is in advanced stages. In other words, disease or illness is further defined by the decline in homeostasis, or abnormally functioning organ systems limiting a balance in overall human function.  Thus, this is the basic indication for preventative healthcare or health-maintenance programs. While we can’t completely eliminate cellular injury and/or cellular death as this is apart of the natural aging process, cellular injury and/or cellular death can be detected early to slow its progression or at least maintain a level of acceptable functionality as in certain types of chronic diseases for example. And, this level of surveillance requires clinical laboratory testing for Hemoglobin A1c in diabetes for example, or BUN/Creatinine/Urine Analysis to assess Kidney function from diabetes or high blood pressure or primary kidney disease, as another example; or to assess HIV-Viral Load/CD4 counts for HIV/AIDS status for still another example.

During Part II of this discussion (ALL ON MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT-CLICK HERE FOR DR GATES’ INSTAGRAM Dr. Gates selects certain types of diseases to give illustration as well as to demonstrate through selective medical literature, ” how therapy and management are selected” in terms of inhibiting, reversing, maintaining or slowing the progression of cellular disease.


MDC-Atlanta remains committed to keeping our patients informed for better quality health care.

Written By: Dr. Jackson Gates

Dr. Jackson L. Gates, MD serves as our Founder & President of Medical Diagnostic Choices. He has personally diagnosed, treated, and reviewed well over 100,000 combined, clinical and laboratory medicine cases over his community-based medical practice career.

October 18, 2013

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