Anatomy & Physiology: Transport of Gases

Describe how oxygen and carbon dioxide are transported in the blood, and explain how their loading and unloading is affected by temperature, pH, BPG, and PCO2.


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Transport of Gases

Gas exchange is a continuous process, and distinct processes are used to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide diffuses out of the circulation into the alveoli to be ejected from the body, and oxygen diffuses across the alveoli. It enters the bloodstream and is carried to the tissues, where it is unloaded. This essay will elucidate how oxygen and carbon dioxide are transported in the blood and explain how their loading and unloading are affected by temperature, pH, BPG, and PCO2.

Oxygen is carried in two different forms. One, it involves being reversibly bound to hemoglobin in a composition of about 98%, and two, it dissolves in red blood cells and plasma water (Glenn & Armstrong, 2019). Physiologists show that a minimal amount of oxygen dissolves in plasma since the solubility of oxygen is very low. On the other hand, carbon dioxide is transported in the bloodstream in three forms, from peripheral tissues to the lungs. They include carbaminohemoglobin, which is bound to hemoglobin and other proteins, dissolved gas, and bicarbonate.

A higher temperature is associated with the cells working harder, which implies that the cells require more oxygen to function. Hemoglobin is, therefore, much more likely to discharge into the tissue cells at higher blood plasma temperatures and much less likely to load oxygen. Because of the Haldane effect, venous blood is not noticeably more acidic than arterial blood, although pH lowers and encourages oxygen unloading (Karbing & Rees, 2020). The synthesis of carbaminohemoglobin (CO2-Hgb), H+ binding, and bicarbonate release are all facilitated by peripheral deoxygenation. When 2,3-BPG binds to hemoglobin, oxygen is released. Additionally, 2,3-BPG lessens hemoglobin’s affinity for oxygen. 2,3-BPG binds to hemoglobin as it is being unloaded in our tissues, favoring the unloading of oxygen. Increased CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) favors oxyhemoglobin dissociation. This reason causes the tissues’ release of oxygen, and as pCO2 rises, pH falls, resulting in the release of oxygen from the hemoglobin.

In conclusion, Oxygen delivery and carrying capacity can be impacted by various factors, including body temperature, carbon dioxide levels, environmental conditions, blood pH, and illnesses.


Glenn, A., & Armstrong, C. E. (2019). Physiology of red and white blood cells. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine, 20(3), 170-174.

Karbing, D. S., & Rees, S. E. (2020). Oxygen: Uptake and Transport in the Blood. Cotes’ Lung Function, 353-375.

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