- a branch of pathophysiology that deals with the motion, equilibrium, or homeostasis of physiological systems under the action of pathological forces
- the motivating or driving forces behind pathological progression
- the pattern or history of growth, change, and progression of a pathology
What’s the point of studying pathology dynamics?
The human body is designed to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, relatively constant condition of properties. One of many possible examples of homeostasis in the human body is internal temperature regulation. The human body operates best at around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. If we are in a cold environment, we shiver to stay warm, and if we are in a hot environment, we sweat to stay cool– all in an effort to maintain our internal temperature homeostasis.
In short, pathology results when the physiological system (cell, tissue, organ, or body) cannot maintain proper equilibrium or homeostasis. Perturbations from outside the system such as bacteria, chemical exposure, or physical trauma or perturbations within the system such as deregulation of genes, proteins, enzymes or key cellular pathways and processes, can trigger a multi-faceted regulatory response in a concerted effort to maintain overall homeostasis. If homeostatic regulation fails or is unable to compensate, the system becomes unstable. It is this system instability that actually propagates the pathology. Thus, even if the initiating perturbation goes away, the pathology still progresses as long as the instability remains. Therefore, the way to stop the progression is not necessarily to treat the initiating perturbation(s), but, rather, to treat the resulting system instability, itself. Pathology dynamics characterize the system instability and its driving forces in a time-sensitive manner. Thus, they may hold the key to solving multi-factorial, seemingly intractable diseases whose etiology is not currently fully known.