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A pie graph showing the proportion of total body fluid in each of the body’s fluid compartments

This pie chart shows that about 55% of water in the human body is intracellular fluid. About 30% of the water in the human body is interstitial fluid. Most of the remaining 15% of water is plasma, along with a small percentage labeled “other fluid”.
Most of the water in the body is intracellular fluid. The second largest volume is the interstitial fluid, which surrounds cells that are not blood cells.

Extracellular fluid

The ECF accounts for the other one-third of the body’s water content. Approximately 20 percent of the ECF is found in plasma. Plasma travels through the body in blood vessels and transports a range of materials, including blood cells, proteins (including clotting factors and antibodies), electrolytes, nutrients, gases, and wastes. Gases, nutrients, and waste materials travel between capillaries and cells through the IF. Cells are separated from the IF by a selectively permeable cell membrane that helps regulate the passage of materials between the IF and the interior of the cell.

The body has other water-based ECF. These include the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord, lymph, the synovial fluid in joints, the pleural fluid in the pleural cavities, the pericardial fluid in the cardiac sac, the peritoneal fluid in the peritoneal cavity, and the aqueous humor of the eye. Because these fluids are outside of cells, these fluids are also considered components of the ECF compartment.

Composition of body fluids

The compositions of the two components of the ECF—plasma and IF—are more similar to each other than either is to the ICF ( [link] ). Blood plasma has high concentrations of sodium, chloride, bicarbonate, and protein. The IF has high concentrations of sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate, but a relatively lower concentration of protein. In contrast, the ICF has elevated amounts of potassium, phosphate, magnesium, and protein. Overall, the ICF contains high concentrations of potassium and phosphate ( HPO 4 2 ), whereas both plasma and the ECF contain high concentrations of sodium and chloride.

The concentrations of different elements in key bodily fluids

This bar graph shows the concentration of several ions and proteins in intracellular fluid, interstitial fluid and plasma. The ions and proteins are categories on the X axis . The Y axis shows concentration, in milliequivalents per liter, ranging from zero to 160. Three different colored bars are shown above each compound on the X axis. One bar represents intracellular fluid (ICF), a second bar represents interstitial fluid (IF, which is part of ECF) and the third bar represents plasma (ECF). Intracellular fluid contains high concentrations of K plus and HPO four two minus. It has lower concentrations of MG two plus and protein, and negligible amounts of the other compounds. Interstitial fluid contains high concentrations of NA plus and CL minus, along with a smaller amount of HCO 3 minus, and negligible amounts of the other compounds. Plasma contains large concentrations of NA plus and CL minus, with smaller concentrations of HCO 3 minus and protein, and negligible amounts of the other compounds.
The graph shows the composition of the ICF, IF, and plasma. The compositions of plasma and IF are similar to one another but are quite different from the composition of the ICF.
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Watch this video to learn more about body fluids, fluid compartments, and electrolytes. When blood volume decreases due to sweating, from what source is water taken in by the blood?

Most body fluids are neutral in charge. Thus, cations, or positively charged ions, and anions, or negatively charged ions, are balanced in fluids. As seen in the previous graph, sodium (Na + ) ions and chloride (Cl - ) ions are concentrated in the ECF of the body, whereas potassium (K + ) ions are concentrated inside cells. Although sodium and potassium can “leak” through “pores” into and out of cells, respectively, the high levels of potassium and low levels of sodium in the ICF are maintained by sodium-potassium pumps in the cell membranes. These pumps use the energy supplied by ATP to pump sodium out of the cell and potassium into the cell ( [link] ).

The sodium-potassium pump

This diagram shows a sodium potassium pump embedded in the cell membrane. In the first step, the pump is opened to the cytosol and closed to the extracellular fluid. First, three sodium ions move into the pump from the cytosol. An ATP molecule binds to the cytosol side of the pump, causing the pump to change shape and open to the extracellular fluid. The pump is now closed to the cytosol. The sodium ions are then released into the extracellular fluid, after which two potassium ions enter the pump. Also at this point, the used ADP detaches from the cytosol side of the pump, leaving a single phosphate attached. The pump then changes shape again so that it closes to the extracellular fluid and again opens to the cytosol. This releases the two potassium ions into the cytosol. The single phosphate also detaches from the pump at this point so that the cycle can start anew. Two bars along the right hand side of the figure indicate that sodium normally diffuses into the cell down its concentration gradient while potassium usually diffuses out of the cell down its concentration gradient. Therefore, the sodium potassium pump is working against these natural concentration gradients.
The sodium-potassium pump is powered by ATP to transfer sodium out of the cytoplasm and into the ECF. The pump also transfers potassium out of the ECF and into the cytoplasm. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villarreal)

Questions & Answers

What ligament are very tight when the knee is fully extended?
Bella Reply
what are the types of synovial joints
Foster Reply
homeostasis is that maintenance of a fairly constant internal environment in living organism.
Godfrey Reply
What is homostasis
Chibuye Reply
Transplants between genetically different individuals of the same speices
shaletta Reply
a branching or projection
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Wasike Reply
what is the structure and functions of plasmodesma
beauty Reply
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Abdulwasi Reply
what's the definition of water
Alhassan Reply
actually got various kind of water, got tap water, distilled water, deionized water mineral water etc. water molecule consist of 2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen atom
any insight ? anyone would like to share.
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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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