17.4.1 Transport of Oxygen

Haemoglobin is a red coloured iron containing pigment present in the RBCs. O2 can bind with haemoglobin in a reversible manner to form oxyhaemoglobin.

Each haemoglobin molecule can carry a maximum of four molecules of O2. Binding of oxygen with haemoglobin is primarily related to partial pressure of O2. Partial pressure of CO2, hydrogen ion concentration and temperature are the other factors which can interfere with this binding.

A sigmoid curve is obtained when percentage saturation of haemoglobin with O2 is plotted against the pO2. This curve is called the Oxygen dissociation curve (Figure 17.5) and is highly useful in studying the effect of factors like pCO2, H+ concentration, etc., on binding of O2 with haemoglobin.

In the alveoli, where there is high pO2, low pCO2, lesser H+ concentration and lower temperature, the factors are all favourable for the formation of oxyhaemoglobin, whereas in the tissues, where low pO2, high pCO2, high H+ concentration and higher temperature exist, the conditions are favourable for dissociation of oxygen from the oxyhaemoglobin.

This clearly indicates that O2 gets bound to haemoglobin in the lung surface and gets dissociated at the tissues. Every 100 ml of oxygenated blood can deliver around 5 ml of O2 to the tissues under normal physiological conditions.

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