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Gas exchange

Gas exchange occurs at two sites in the body: in the lungs, where oxygen is picked up and carbon dioxide is released at the respiratory membrane, and at the tissues, where oxygen is released and carbon dioxide is picked up. External respiration is the exchange of gases with the external environment, and occurs in the alveoli of the lungs. Internal respiration is the exchange of gases with the internal environment, and occurs in the tissues. The actual exchange of gases occurs due to simple diffusion. Energy is not required to move oxygen or carbon dioxide across membranes. Instead, these gases follow pressure gradients that allow them to diffuse. The anatomy of the lung maximizes the diffusion of gases: The respiratory membrane is highly permeable to gases; the respiratory and blood capillary membranes are very thin; and there is a large surface area throughout the lungs.

External respiration

The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood into the lungs from the heart, where it branches and eventually becomes the capillary network composed of pulmonary capillaries. These pulmonary capillaries create the respiratory membrane with the alveoli ( [link] ). As the blood is pumped through this capillary network, gas exchange occurs. Although a small amount of the oxygen is able to dissolve directly into plasma from the alveoli, most of the oxygen is picked up by erythrocytes (red blood cells) and binds to a protein called hemoglobin, a process described later in this chapter. Oxygenated hemoglobin is red, causing the overall appearance of bright red oxygenated blood, which returns to the heart through the pulmonary veins. Carbon dioxide is released in the opposite direction of oxygen, from the blood to the alveoli. Some of the carbon dioxide is returned on hemoglobin, but can also be dissolved in plasma or is present as a converted form, also explained in greater detail later in this chapter.

External respiration occurs as a function of partial pressure differences in oxygen and carbon dioxide between the alveoli and the blood in the pulmonary capillaries.

External respiration

This figure shows the pathway in which external respiration takes place. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the alveolus and blood plasma is detailed.
In external respiration, oxygen diffuses across the respiratory membrane from the alveolus to the capillary, whereas carbon dioxide diffuses out of the capillary into the alveolus.

Although the solubility of oxygen in blood is not high, there is a drastic difference in the partial pressure of oxygen in the alveoli versus in the blood of the pulmonary capillaries. This difference is about 64 mm Hg: The partial pressure of oxygen in the alveoli is about 104 mm Hg, whereas its partial pressure in the blood of the capillary is about 40 mm Hg. This large difference in partial pressure creates a very strong pressure gradient that causes oxygen to rapidly cross the respiratory membrane from the alveoli into the blood.

The partial pressure of carbon dioxide is also different between the alveolar air and the blood of the capillary. However, the partial pressure difference is less than that of oxygen, about 5 mm Hg. The partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the blood of the capillary is about 45 mm Hg, whereas its partial pressure in the alveoli is about 40 mm Hg. However, the solubility of carbon dioxide is much greater than that of oxygen—by a factor of about 20—in both blood and alveolar fluids. As a result, the relative concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide that diffuse across the respiratory membrane are similar.

Questions & Answers

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Natarajan Reply
3 longitudinal bands of smooth muscles found in large intestines
what's is sutures
Nimeshka Reply
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Roy Reply
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anatomy mins
when two or more bones meet.
I am interested in learning but it is a little threatening corona virus covid 19
Samnang Reply
I don't know about Corona virus
what would you like to know?
what is a peripheral protien
Ayesha Reply
actually its located in between the lipid layer, it does not specify if it's closer to the inside or the outside of the cell
It is protein found in lipid bilayer but found attached with Cytoplasm aspect
what are the collection of blood.?
sunshine Reply
Effect of exercise on different body systems?
Rania Reply
what is ambroylogy
kashif Reply
embryology..is the biological studing of embryos
I know biological study but embryology mean any pic, example?
I like to learn about medical and more
what is the function of the blood
Yolanda Reply
Transporting of oxygen,fighting against germs, forms clotting ,distribution of nutrients and minerals through out the body ,
Transportation of gases such as oxygen and water blance and carrei metabolites to the exit organ and Acid base equilibrium and clotting blood and Immune
What are Gross and microscopicAnatomy
Waiswa Reply
study of the internal structures of a human being
gross anatomy is the study of body parts that can be seen with our naked eyes while micro anatomy involves the study of body parts that cannot be seen with our naked eyes but with the aid of a microscope
gross means examination of specimen or tissue with bare (unaided ) eye while microscopic means examination of same with the help of microscope
what is physiology
Waiswa Reply
what are blood pressure
physiology is the study of the normal functions of organs
Blood pressure is a when systolic phase is 190 and diastolic phase 90.
systolic phase is 180.not 190
explain the anatomy of the human heart
Maia Reply
is the scientific study of the body structure ie like structure very small which can be only observed.
where can I find the muscle organization
Taonga Reply
what is the physiology?
Josoph Reply
the study of functioning of body organs
In other words... Physiology is the study of normal function within living creatures. It is a sub-section of biology, covering a range of topics that include organs, anatomy, cells, biological compounds, and how they all interact to make life possible.
which part of the heart supply blood to all parts of the body
left heart supply all the body.
what analysisof an anatomy
Okay thanks distinguish between blood pressure and body organs
branch of anatomy which deal with the life process and function
how oxygen and carbondioxide are transported in the body.
riddon Reply
Through the lungs as we inhale oxygen it diffuses into the alveoli while carbon dioxide diffuses out of the blood and from our bodies
from lungs o2 diffuses into blood capillaries from where it is bound to heam part of hb there after it is transported to different parts of body ...co2 that is produced during respiration in cells gets transported to lungs from lungs it gets exhalated
o2 is mainly transported by hb present in blood while co2 is transported main as bicarbonate.. detailed topics

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