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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

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renah Reply
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vipin
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vipin
The resting membrane potential of a neuron is about -70 mV (mV=millivolt) - this means that the inside of the neuron is 70 mV less than the outside. At rest, there are relatively more sodium ions outside the neuron and more potassium ions inside that neuron.
Adnan
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is the study of structural of the human body and their function
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In biology, a blastomere is a type of cell produced by cleavage (cell division) of the zygote after fertilization and is an essential part of blastula formation.
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Shivaani
Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things. The human body is composed of trillions of cells. They provide structure for the body, take in nutrients from food, convert those nutrients into energy, and carry out specialized functions. ... Cells have many parts, each with a different
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Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things. The human body is composed of trillions of cells. They provide structure for the body, take in nutrients from food, convert those nutrients into energy, and carry out specialized functions. ... Cells have many parts, each with a different
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A normal level of oxygen is usually 95% or higher. Some people with chronic lung disease or sleep apnea can have normal levels around 90%. The “SpO2” reading on a pulse oximeter shows the percentage of oxygen in someone's blood
Adnan
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Ajibola Reply
The cytoplasm is 90℅ water and 10℅ of organic and inorganic compounds. The cytoplasm contains mitochondria. ... Lysosomes of Cytoplasm contains 50 different enzymes that digest proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. The endoplasmic reticulum produces process and transport proteins, lipids for all the
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Raghvendra
Blood is considered a connective tissue because it has a matrix. The living cell types are red blood cells, also called erythrocytes, and white blood cells, also called leukocytes. The fluid portion of whole blood, its matrix, is commonly called plasma.
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Victoriah Reply
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Anatomy is the study of physical body structure
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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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