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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the principles of oxygen transport
  • Describe the structure of hemoglobin
  • Compare and contrast fetal and adult hemoglobin
  • Describe the principles of carbon dioxide transport

The other major activity in the lungs is the process of respiration, the process of gas exchange. The function of respiration is to provide oxygen for use by body cells during cellular respiration and to eliminate carbon dioxide, a waste product of cellular respiration, from the body. In order for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to occur, both gases must be transported between the external and internal respiration sites. Although carbon dioxide is more soluble than oxygen in blood, both gases require a specialized transport system for the majority of the gas molecules to be moved between the lungs and other tissues.

Oxygen transport in the blood

Even though oxygen is transported via the blood, you may recall that oxygen is not very soluble in liquids. A small amount of oxygen does dissolve in the blood and is transported in the bloodstream, but it is only about 1.5% of the total amount. The majority of oxygen molecules are carried from the lungs to the body’s tissues by a specialized transport system, which relies on the erythrocyte—the red blood cell. Erythrocytes contain a metalloprotein, hemoglobin, which serves to bind oxygen molecules to the erythrocyte ( [link] ). Heme is the portion of hemoglobin that contains iron, and it is heme that binds oxygen. One hemoglobin molecule contains iron-containing Heme molecules, and because of this, each hemoglobin molecule is capable of carrying up to four molecules of oxygen. As oxygen diffuses across the respiratory membrane from the alveolus to the capillary, it also diffuses into the red blood cell and is bound by hemoglobin. The following reversible chemical reaction describes the production of the final product, oxyhemoglobin    (Hb–O 2 ), which is formed when oxygen binds to hemoglobin. Oxyhemoglobin is a bright red-colored molecule that contributes to the bright red color of oxygenated blood.

Hb + O 2 Hb   O 2 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaagyart1ev2aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiVu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaaeisaiaabkgacaqGGaGaae4kaiaabccacaqGpbWaaSbaaSqaaiaabkdaaeqaaOGaeyiLHSQaaeisaiaabkgacaqGGaGaeyOeI0Iaaeiiaiaab+eadaWgaaWcbaGaaeOmaaqabaaaaa@42D6@

In this formula, Hb represents reduced hemoglobin, that is, hemoglobin that does not have oxygen bound to it. There are multiple factors involved in how readily heme binds to and dissociates from oxygen, which will be discussed in the subsequent sections.

Erythrocyte and hemoglobin

This diagram shows a red blood cell and the structure of a hemoglobin molecule.
Hemoglobin consists of four subunits, each of which contains one molecule of iron.

Function of hemoglobin

Hemoglobin is composed of subunits, a protein structure that is referred to as a quaternary structure. Each of the four subunits that make up hemoglobin is arranged in a ring-like fashion, with an iron atom covalently bound to the heme in the center of each subunit. Binding of the first oxygen molecule causes a conformational change in hemoglobin that allows the second molecule of oxygen to bind more readily. As each molecule of oxygen is bound, it further facilitates the binding of the next molecule, until all four heme sites are occupied by oxygen. The opposite occurs as well: After the first oxygen molecule dissociates and is “dropped off” at the tissues, the next oxygen molecule dissociates more readily. When all four heme sites are occupied, the hemoglobin is said to be saturated. When one to three heme sites are occupied, the hemoglobin is said to be partially saturated. Therefore, when considering the blood as a whole, the percent of the available heme units that are bound to oxygen at a given time is called hemoglobin saturation. Hemoglobin saturation of 100 percent means that every heme unit in all of the erythrocytes of the body is bound to oxygen. In a healthy individual with normal hemoglobin levels, hemoglobin saturation generally ranges from 95 percent to 99 percent.

Questions & Answers

What is anatomy !?
Arun Reply
the study of different parts of body to discover situation structure and economy
Aurelia
Anatomy is a study of structure of the body parts and it's consistents. Anatomy is a Greek word which means to cut up
Asma
Which book is perfect for anatomy ? among BD , Vishram , Gray's !?
Arun
iama Student of 1st year
Arun
Ashalata Anatomy text book
Johanna
The study of various body structures and their relationship with one another
Onwochie
Ross and Wilson's anatomy textbook
Onwochie
Anatomy is the study of human structure, functions and other relative organs in the system
Ayorinde
ross and willson book
Tifu
the study of structure unite of body
Faisal
thanks to all
Arun
Does anyone Read A.K dutta?
Arun
refer to the study of human body structure
SAID
which nerve orginates from pons
Kripa Reply
trigeminal nerve
madhuri
demand and supply rules
jamac Reply
compative demand and supply
jamac
compare demand and supply
jamac
what are simple epithelial tissues
Ushie Reply
is a type of tissue which covers the external and internal part of the body
Fatou
more information would be better understanding.
Tasha
what is platelets
Lilian Reply
platelet is also known as thrombocyte.thrombo means clot.it is a formed element of blood formed from fragment of megakaryocyte surrounded by plasma membrane in the redbone marow
Adeyemo
what is diabetes insipidus
namrata Reply
it is an infection due to less or no secretion of ADH characterized by excretion of dilute urine
Meshack
Infection? I don't think any form of diabetes, whether it's mellitus or insipidus, is caused by an infection.
Matias
ya
Akanyijuka
it is the disorder of salt & water metabolism
Emma
diabetes inspidus is a condition were the liver can't produce insulin to convert the excess sugar to glycogen.
mangs
sorry that is for diabetes mellitus
mangs
what is septal cartilage
Arthur Reply
I don't understand please
Esther Reply
hey
Austine
good evening boss
Austine
Evening
Esther
good evening
Melissa
evening
Vitus
hi
Rodgers
good morning
Aurelia
hello
Helsa
you guys are from ?
Aurelia
Philippines
Helsa
im from india
Aurelia
Hello
Amos
why
Sami
wat
Rodgers
what's that
Gift
what's the medulla?
alhussiney Reply
The medulla oblongata or simply medulla is a long stem-like structure which makes up the lower part of the brainstem. It is anterior and partially inferior to the cerebellum
Ludmila
define bone in simple terms
Mhoses Reply
bones are made up by collagen and calcium phosphate
Aurelia
yes
Confidence
Bones are the hard large calcareous connective tissue of which the adult skeleton of most vertebrates is chiefly composed
Olalekan
Bone is the substance that forms skeleton
Frances
good morning
Mrinal
Skelton muscles is any disorder of calcium
Mrinal
Bones protect the various organs of the body
Celina
Bone is a hard strong and durable type of connective tissue
Bkv
bone is a hard, calcareous connective tissue which gives structural support to the body and helpless in its locomotion!
Divya
It also is the main site for synthesis of the RBCs
Divya
thanks for your answers
Mhoses
A diagram of epithelial tissue
Emmanuel Reply
What does the urinary regulate blood pressure
Jennifer Reply
functions of melatonin
marion Reply
d. inversely proportional
John Reply
Airway resistance in the human lung is? a. Greatest in the generation of distal bronchioles in healthy people because these airways have the smallest radii b. Not increased during a forced expiration in a healthy subject c. Decreased when breathing through the mouth d. Inversely proportional
Maryam Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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