MCAT Biology : Other Digestive Physiology

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for MCAT Biology

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Other Digestive Physiology

What is the effect of aldosterone on the ductal cells of salivary glands?

Possible Answers:

Increase both sodium and potassium absorption

Inhibit saliva secretion

Increase sodium absorption

Increase potassium absorption

Correct answer:

Increase sodium absorption

Explanation:

The hormone aldosterone is most frequently associated with the kidney and nephron function, but has effects on water balance in other regions of the body as well. In the mouth, aldosterone acts on salivary glands to promote sodium and water absorption. The sodium is pumped across the epithelial cells of the mouth, and is able to directly enter the blood via sodium-potassium ATPase function. Potassium is secreted as a result.

Example Question #22 : Other Digestive Physiology

The esophagus contains which type of muscle?

Possible Answers:

Smooth

Striated

Neither smooth, nor striated

Both smooth and striated

Correct answer:

Both smooth and striated

Explanation:

The esophagus contains both striated (skeletal) muscle and smooth muscle. The two types of muscle, therefore, allow two distinct functions. Skeletal muscle, in the upper part of the esophagus, allows for voluntary control of swallowing; thus, when a bolus of food has been broken down by chewing, a person can consciously make a decision to begin the swallowing process. Once in the esophagus and past the striated muscle of the upper esophagus, the muscular control is smooth muscle. Smooth muscle is autonomically regulated, meaning that no voluntary control is needed to continue swallowing. Once the food enters the esophagus, the smooth muscle will propel it downwards towards the stomach. The mix of striated and smooth muscle allows for voluntary control of beginning to swallow, but automatic control for swallow completion.

Example Question #23 : Other Digestive Physiology

How does parasympathetic nervous system control of the gastrointestinal system serve to change the rate of digestion?

Possible Answers:

Does not affect digestive rate

Increase the rate of digestion

Stops digestion of food

Decrease the rate of digestion

Correct answer:

Decrease the rate of digestion

Explanation:

The parasympathetic nervous system, controlled in the gastrointestinal system by the vagus and pubic nerves, serves to decrease the rate of digestion. Rhythmic contractions of the small intestine and large intestine are slowed under parasympathetic control, leading to decreased digestion and absorption of food contents. This represents the "rest and digest" portion of the parasympathetic nervous system, in contrast to the "fight or flight" portion of the sympathetic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system slows digestion, allowing for more absorption of nutrients. The sympathetic response increases the rate of flow through the digestive tract, limiting the amount of absorption that can occur.

Example Question #24 : Other Digestive Physiology

The interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are responsible for which function of the gastrointestinal system?

Possible Answers:

Absorption of proteins

Absorption of fat

Absorption of iron

Peristalsis

Correct answer:

Peristalsis

Explanation:

The interstitial cells of Cajal link the parasympathetic nervous system with the smooth muscle of the gastrointestinal system. They are responsible for the rhythmic contractions of the gastrointestinal system that propel digested food, and are found in the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Interference with their "pacemaker-like" function can lead to constipation and gastroparesis (failure of the gastrointestinal system to contract).

Absorption of fats, iron, and proteins occurs in the small intestine with the aid of microvilli.

Example Question #25 : Other Digestive Physiology

Afferent fibers in the gastrointestinal tract function by __________.

Possible Answers:

carrying motor information from the central nervous system to the gastrointestinal tract

carrying sensory information from the central nervous system to the gastrointestinal tract

carrying sensory information from the gastrointestinal tract to the central nervous system

carrying motor information from the gastrointestinal tract to the central nervous system

Correct answer:

carrying sensory information from the gastrointestinal tract to the central nervous system

Explanation:

Afferent fibers carry information from the periphery to the central nervous system. In contrast, efferent fibers carry information from the central nervous system to the periphery. Generally, afferent fibers will carry sensory information and efferent fibers will carry motor and stimulatory information.

Afferent fibers in the digestive tract will detect changes in content and volume contained in the lumen of digestive organs. These signals are integrated in the central nervous system, and efferent signals are used to promote hormone or enzyme secretions and smooth muscle contraction.

Example Question #26 : Other Digestive Physiology

What function is under the control of the myenteric plexus, also known as Auerbach's plexus?

Possible Answers:

Blood flow throughout the gastrointestinal system.

Gastrointestinal secretions

Hormone balance

GI motility

Correct answer:

GI motility

Explanation:

Auerbach's plexus, also known as the myenteric plexus, is located between the gastrointestinal circular and longitudinal muscles, and controls motility throughout the system.

Secretion and blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract are both functions of the submucosal (Meissner's) plexus of the gastrointestinal system. Neither plexus is involved in hormonal balance. 

Example Question #27 : Other Digestive Physiology

Which of the following is not innervated by the vagus nerve?

Possible Answers:

Esophagus

Rectum

Large intestine

Pancreas

Correct answer:

Rectum

Explanation:

The vagus nerve is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system originating from the brain (cranial nerve X). The vagus nerve innervates the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, and upper portion of the large intestine. It is involved in parasympathetic stimulation of digestive function during periods of "rest and digest."

The rectum is innervated by the pelvic splanchnic nerves, which are also part of the parasympathetic nervous system.

 

Example Question #28 : Other Digestive Physiology

Bile salts, produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, contain a portion of the molecule that is able to bind fat and a portion of the molecule that can interact with water to solvate the ingested fats for absorption. Bile salts are thus known as what type of molecule?

Possible Answers:

Hydrophilic

Amphiphilic 

Hydrophobic

Amphiphobic

Correct answer:

Amphiphilic 

Explanation:

We are told that bile salts can interact with both lipids and water in order to aid in the digestion and absorption of fats ingested in meals; thus, the bile salts are both hydrophobic (interact with the lipids) and hydrophilic (interact with water and polar molecules), giving them the definition of amphiphilic. An amphiphobic molecule would interact with neither polar, nor nonpolar molecules. 

Example Question #29 : Other Digestive Physiology

Bile acids are modified in the liver through a process called phase II metabolism, where a nucleotide-sugar moiety is added to a fat molecule to create an amphiphillic molecule. The purpose of conjugating bile acids during phase II metabolism helps to prevent all of the following functions except __________.

Possible Answers:

enhancing hydrophilicity

enhancing hydrophobicity

keeping bile salts in the gastrointestinal lumen

reducing bile degradation by pancreatic enzymes

Correct answer:

enhancing hydrophobicity

Explanation:

Conjugation of the bile salts, made by the liver and stored by the gallbladder, enhances the ability of fat micelles to dissolve in water (hydrophilicity), prevents the bile salts from being trapped in the gastrointestinal lumen, and prevents pancreatic enzymes, like lipase and amylase, from degrading the bile salts. In phase II metabolism in the liver, conjugation increases the ability of a substance to be dissolved in water, which promotes aqueous solubility and excretion.

Example Question #30 : Other Digestive Physiology

If a person has their gallbladder removed, what must they attempt to exclude from their diet?

Possible Answers:

Polysaccharides

Triglycerides

Lactose

Proteins

Correct answer:

Triglycerides

Explanation:

The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile from the liver. Bile is used to emulsify fats, assisting digestion in the small intestine. A person whose gallbladder has been removed should restrict fat consumption, as they will have a limited ability to digest fatty compounds. Triglycerides are a form of fat.

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