The Critical Influence of Water on Human Health and Biomedical Innovation

Water: The Lifeline of Human Physiology

Water is the lifeblood of our existence, making up about 65% of an adult’s body mass. This percentage fluctuates throughout our lives, starting at a remarkable 97% in embryos and settling to around 60-65% in adults. Each organ’s water content is tailored to its function: blood is 90% water, muscles 75%, the brain and kidneys 83%, lungs 86%, eyes 95%, and even bones are composed of 22% water. The kidneys, for example, depend on water to filter waste from the blood, while the skin requires it to remain supple and healthy.

Gender and body composition also influence water content. Typically, women have a higher body fat percentage and consequently about 5% less body water than men of the same age, as fat tissue contains minimal water.

Water facilitates all biological and chemical processes in the body, including heat production and energy metabolism, which are vital for sustaining life. It is also essential for thermoregulation, enabling the body to maintain a stable temperature by releasing heat through sweat or conserving heat by constricting blood vessels near vital organs.

Dehydration can lead to severe health issues, such as cognitive decline, respiratory difficulties, and compromised organ function. A mere 2% drop in body water can impair short-term memory. Aging is associated with a decrease in cellular water, which can affect organ functionality and manifest as symptoms like nervousness, irritability, and fatigue.
Interplay Between Biomedical Materials and Human Fluids

Biomedical materials, including prosthetics and tissue engineering scaffolds, must be compatible with human physiological fluids. These materials’ bio-functional and mechanical characteristics can be influenced by the body’s extracellular water content.

Research by Aversa et al. (2016) introduced new hybrid materials combining fumed amorphous silica nanoparticles with hydrophilic poly-(hydroxyl-ethyl-methacrylate) (pHEMA). These materials demonstrated enhanced mechanical strength and stiffness while maintaining transparency. They are engineered to replicate the biomechanical properties of bone, promoting osteoblast growth, which is crucial for bone remodeling and repair.

The mechanical properties of these materials are affected by their interaction with physiological fluids. When immersed in aqueous solutions, they swell, and their shear moduli decrease, indicating a plasticization effect. This response is vital for the materials to emulate the mechanical properties of bone and cartilage, which are dependent on their water content.
The Influence of Water on Biomaterial Performanc

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