Volume I: Molecules and Cells
This volume is the first to lay down a solid foundation for the study of biological organisation at the molecular level using a theoretical approach. Physiological phenomena are explained with mathematical principles, building up a novel theory for biological integration. The volume describes the relationship between the structure of biological macromolecules and the molecular mechanisms of the functioning organism: the regulatory role through inhibition and competition and the catalytic role. It takes issue with the major problem of molecular self organisation of biological systems from a general standpoint as well as from the point of view of information theory. The example used is the DNA replication-translation apparatus of a cell. There is an apparent evolution towards a greater complexity, which comes through an increase in the degree of self organisation and a greater stability in the organism which is studied in detail. The volume finishes with the organisation at the cellular level and the central problem of cell differentiation and its relationships with the physiological functions of the cell, emphasising the concepts of cell morphogenesis, growth, division and cell differentiation.
Volume II: Tissues and Organs
In the same way that Volume I studied the molecular basis of biological organisation, Volume II looks at the cellular and tissue organisation within the discipline of traditional physiology. In addition to addressing the problem of cell-to-cell transfer, the first step in the study of tissues, it provides a mathematical model for all the major physiological functions. The cell and its environment is discussed, with brief descriptions of the plasma membrane and cell junctions. The trans-membrane transport is explained using the thermodynamic theory. The carrier concept and its influence on the calculation of membrane potential is developed as is the Goldman equation and various current theories of membrane excitability. Energy metabolism and digestive function, are covered looking closely at muscular contraction, heat transfer and the respiratory and renal apparatus. Mechanical and electrophysiological aspects of the cardiovascular system are discussed and special attention is paid to the important metabolic phenomena of microcirculation. The concepts of non-symmetry and non-locality are also introduced and the reader is pointed to several useful appendices covering fundamental flow equations, elements of tensor calculus and polar and cylindrical co-ordinate systems.
Volume III: Organisation and Regulation
The aim of the third and final volume in this set is to demonstrate the fundamental role of the hierarchical functional organization in the process of control and regulation of the whole organism. Here too the author has concentrated on the methodologies that are likely to lead to a general formalization of current physiological knowledge. The endocrine and nervous systems are discussed, the former in terms of certain molecular mechanisms of hormonal action with several hormonal axes being considered. The latter is studied through several theories concerning neurons, interneuronal relationships and neuronal networks. Here, perhaps more than elsewhere, the notion of underlying functional organization is very useful. The integrated regulation of an organism is charted, looking at the four major physiological functions: digestion, respiration, blood circulation and renal function. The volume also points the reader to the expected development of these ideas in the future, investigating the principle of vital coherence and showing that the organism is a highly stable integrated entity in which all the functions are closely related.
- © Elsevier 1990
- 14th June 1996
- Hardcover ISBN:
Institute of Theoretical Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Angers, France and Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA