Mottet, N. Karle University Hospital, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Quaife, Carol Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Van Loon, J. C. Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Last reviewed:March 2021
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- Endogenous factors
- Exogenous factors
- Geochemical aspects
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A deleterious set of responses occurring at the subcellular level, stimulated by infection, injury, or genetic or developmental errors, and manifested in altered structure or functioning of the affected organism. Disease is considered to be a condition in which an organism's body, or a part of its body, has abnormal functionality or structure, which is typically revealed by distinctive signs and symptoms (see illustration). Historically, the concept of disease has changed as understanding of biological systems has increased. For centuries, disease was described in terms of gross changes. Then, a major revolution in biology occurred between 1840 and 1860, based largely on the improvement and application of the light microscope. It included the works of Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, who developed the concept referred to as the cell theory. This theory states that the basic structural and functional unit of all plant and animal life is the cell. Rudolf Ludwig Carl Virchow was the central figure who applied the cell theory to the pathogenesis of human disease. He recognized that diseases were the product of the alteration of cell structure and function. See also: Cell (biology); Developmental biology; Developmental genetics; Genetics; Infection; Infectious disease; Microscope; Pathology
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