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Mechanism of human respiration and Gases Transport

Respiration Mechanisms and Transport of Gases External respiration is the exchange of gases between alveolar air and blood across the respiratory membrane in the lungs. Internal respiration is the exchange of gases between blood and tissue cells. For these two events to occur, gases must be transported from the lungs to the tissues and back to the lungs again. Partial Pressures of Gases During external and internal respiration, gases diffuse down their concentration gradients. During diffusion, molecules move from the area of higher concentration to the area of lower concentration. With reference to respiration, gases move from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. Further, the pressure of a gas determines the rate at which it will diffuse from one area to another. When there is a mixture of gases, as in the atmosphere, each gas contributes to the total weight or pressure; therefore, each gas has a partial pressure, symbolized by the letter P For example, we know that atmospheric pressure is 760 mm Hg (millimeters mercury) and that air is 21 % oxygen. This means that the partial pressure of oxygen (P02) in the atmosphere is 0.21 X 760 = 160 mm Hg. Similarly, we know that air is 0.04% carbon dioxide. This means that the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (Peo2) is 0.0004 X 760 = 0.3 mm Hg. In the lungs, since Peo2 is higher in venous blood than in the alveolus, carbon dioxide diffuses out of the blood; since the P02 is lower in venous blood than in the alveolus, oxygen diffuses into the blood. In the tissues, since Peo2 is higher in the tissues than in arterial blood, carbon dioxide diffuses into the blood; since P02 is higher in arterial blood than in the tissues, oxygen diffuses out of the blood. The differences in the partial pressures of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the lungs and the tissues account for gas exchange. In the lungs. carbon dioxide diffuses out of the blood. and oxygen diffuses into the blood. This is external respiration. In the tissues. oxygen diffuses out of the blood. and carbon dioxide diffuses into the blood. This is internal respiration.

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Transport of Gases Some oxygen is dissolved in plasma, but most is carried by hemoglobin, the respiratory pigment, in red blood cells. At the P02 of alveolar air, hemoglobin is about 100% saturated with oxygen. The heme portion of hemoglobin contains iron, which combines with oxygen; still, the equation for oxyhemoglobin formation is: Hb + O2 ~ Hb02 Oxyhemoglobin, which forms in the lungs, is bright red, and this explains the color of arterial blood. Oxygen is bound only loosely to heme and, at the PO2 in the tissues, hemoglobin readily gives oxygen up. Tissues that are actively using oxygen, such as contracting muscles, have a lower-than-normal PO2 and this causes more oxygen to be released. Also, hemoglobin more readily releases oxygen in the warmer and more acidic conditions created by the release of carbon dioxide by actively metabolizing tissues. Hemoglobin that is not carrying oxygen is called deoxyhemoglobin (dHb). Deoxyhemoglobin is dark purple, which explains the color of venous blood. Red blood cells that have given up oxygen in the tissues are now ready to take part in the transport of carbon dioxide. At the PCO2 of the tissues, carbon dioxide readily enters the blood, and some dissolves in plasma. Another portion combines with the amino groups of hemoglobin to form carbaminohemoglobin: Hb + CO2 ~ HbC02 However, most of the carbon dioxide is transported as bicarbonate ions (HC03 -). This ion appears after carbon dioxide has combined with water to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid dissociates (breaks down) to a hydrogen ion and a bicarbonate ion: H20 + CO2 ----> H2C03 ----> H+ + HC03 An enzyme in red blood cells, called carbonic anhydrase, speeds up this reaction. The released hydrogen ions, which could drastically change the pH of the blood, are absorbed by the globin portion of hemoglobin, which therefore acts as a buffer. The buffering ability of hemoglobin plays a vital role
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in maintaining blood pH. The bicarbonate ions diffuse out of the red blood cells to be carried in the plasma. Electrolyte balance is maintained when chloride ions (CI-) from the plasma enter the red blood cells. This is called the chloride shift. Once venous blood reaches the lungs, the lower PCO2 of alveolar air prompts the reaction just described to occur m reverse: HC03 - + H+ ----> H2C03 ----> H20 + CO2 Under the influence of carbonic anhydrase, bicarbonate ions join with hydrogen ions released by hemoglobin, and the resulting carbonic acid splits into carbon dioxide and water. The carbon dioxide diffuses out of the blood into the alveoli for expiration. Now hemoglobin is ready again to transport oxygen. Some oxygen is dissolved in plasma, but most forms a loose association with hemoglobin. Therefore, oxygen is transported in the blood within red blood cells. Carbon dioxide is transported: (1) dissolved in plasma, (2) in carbaminohemoglobin, and (3) mostly as bicarbonate ions.

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