Essentials of cell physiology
© 2016 Cell physiology investigates how cells function and interact with their environment. Cells are exposed to a range of distinct stimuli in response to which they need to initiate appropriate responses to ensure their own survival as well as that of the organism as a whole. Responding to stimuli is only possible if cells express receptors capable of sensing the presence of these stimuli. An important role in this process is played by receptors that are inserted in the membrane surrounding and protecting cells, as they permit cells to sense stimuli without directly exposing their intracellular milieu to them. Receptors can detect a number of distinct stimuli: chemical, mechanical, thermal and electrical. The response triggered in a cell following receptor stimulation depends on the type of receptor and down-stream signalling molecules present in the cell as well as the presence or absence of other stimuli. A good understanding of cell physiology is of high importance to surgeons as it helps understand, predict and improve clinical outcome and devise treatment strategies.