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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 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
1. Chemical level 2. Cellular level 3.Tissue level 4. Organ level 5.Organ system level 5.Organismal level
Jamela Reply
d
HMD
High
HMD
why there is bleeding in menstruation?
KUHELI Reply
menopause
Vasu
no
KUHELI
no one ready to help me
Maryam
skin
The following hormones increase the blood glucose level except_____________? a. Parathormone b. Growth Hormone c. Epinephrine d. Thyroxine
Maryam
c.epinephrine
Divya
Which of the following is NOT a characteristic feature of alveoli in the lung? a. Poor blood supply b. A large surface area c. Thin walls d. Chemical layer called surfactant
Maryam
a.poor blood supply
Divya
poor blood supply
Tanvi
Excess of cortisol causes______________? a. Acromegaly b. Conn’s syndrome c. Diabetes insipidus d. Cushing syndrome
Maryam
plz fast
Maryam
cushing syndrome
Tanvi
thank you
Maryam
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
what happens to the brain when one cannot sleep
aghedo
it means melatonin is not released enough to make u fall asleep or there is a disturbance or destruction for melatonin to be released on time
Mhoses
name temporary endocrine gland in female.
KUHELI Reply
when does 1st meiotic division occur in male ?
KUHELI Reply
spermatogenesis
Vasu
) Which of the following best describes the human body's defense mechanism against environmental bacteria?
Homeostasis
Zeinab
What the answer plz
Zeinab
skin
KUHELI
Kuheli but I think skin is an organ not defence mechanism
Zeinab
Homeostasis is the system responsible for body response to external changes
Eliaz
skin
skin
Kharim
what is an inflammation
Lodrick Reply
it's a reaction from a body tissue
Perpenjeng
is the body own mechanism of fighting against disease especially infections or injuries.
Azapa
Inflammation is a tissue response to damage tissues
Zeinab
The following hormones increase the blood glucose level except_____________? a. Parathormone b. Growth Hormone c. Epinephrine d. Thyroxine
Maryam

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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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