Key Points

• A small amount of O2 is physically dissolved in blood, but most of the O2 in blood is chemically bound to hemoglobin.

• O2 concentration in blood is a nonlinear function of O2 partial pressure. Hemoglobin is responsible for the S-shape of the blood-O2 equilibrium curve, which is advantageous for O2 loading in lungs and O2 unloading in tissues.

• Concentration of O2 in blood can vary with hematocrit for a given PO2 and O2 saturation of hemoglobin.

• CO2, pH, temperature, and organic phosphates can influence the position and shape of the blood-O2 equilibrium curve and affect O2 exchange.

• CO2 is more soluble than O2 in blood, and there are smaller differences in CO2 partial pressure in the body, compared with the range of O2 partial pressures.

• The blood-CO2 equilibrium curve is influenced by hemoglobin-O2 saturation, and this effect facilitates gas exchange.

• Carbonic anhydrase facilitates ion and gas exchange between red blood cells, plasma, and tissues.

• Blood is a bicarbonate and protein buffer system, and the relationship between blood pH and CO2 partial pressure can be described by the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation.

• Both the lungs and kidneys are involved in blood pH homeostasis. The lungs can compensate for chronic disturbances in acid-base balance caused by the kidneys, and vice versa, but the lungs work faster than the kidneys

Essential Medical Physiology, Third Edition

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