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Physiol Rev. 2000 Apr;80(2):681-715.

Carbon dioxide transport and carbonic anhydrase in blood and muscle.

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  • 1Zentrum Physiologie, Medizinische Hochschule, Hannover, Germany.


CO(2) produced within skeletal muscle has to leave the body finally via ventilation by the lung. To get there, CO(2) diffuses from the intracellular space into the convective transport medium blood with the two compartments, plasma and erythrocytes. Within the body, CO(2) is transported in three different forms: physically dissolved, as HCO(3)(-), or as carbamate. The relative contribution of these three forms to overall transport is changing along this elimination pathway. Thus the kinetics of the interchange have to be considered. Carbonic anhydrase accelerates the hydration/dehydration reaction between CO(2), HCO(3)(-), and H(+). In skeletal muscle, various isozymes of carbonic anhydrase are localized within erythrocytes but are also bound to the capillary wall, thus accessible to plasma; bound to the sarcolemma, thus producing catalytic activity within the interstitial space; and associated with the sarcoplasmic reticulum. In some fiber types, carbonic anhydrase is also present in the sarcoplasm. In exercising skeletal muscle, lactic acid contributes huge amounts of H(+) and by these affects the relative contribution of the three forms of CO(2). With a theoretical model, the complex interdependence of reactions and transport processes involved in CO(2) exchange was analyzed.

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