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Microcirculation. 2005 Jan-Feb;12(1):59-70.

Oxygen transport and exchange in the microcirculation.

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Department of Physiology, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298-0551, USA.


The cardiovascular system is responsible for maintaining an adequate convective delivery of oxygen to the smallest branches of the network of blood vessels-the microcirculation-from which oxygen passes to the parenchymal cells by passive diffusion. The aim of this brief review is to trace the development of the study of oxygen transport from the point of view of the microcirculation. August Krogh performed measurements that allowed him to use his keen insight to draw conclusions about oxygen transport that remained the foundations of this field for decades. After an extended period of neglect, Duling rekindled interest in the field of oxygen transport by discovering that substantial amounts of oxygen diffused from the arteriolar network. Subsequent investigations confirmed this finding ill various vascular beds and extended these studies to capillaries and venules. The important contributions of computational modeling and new techniques in intravital microscopy continue to lead to more advances in our understanding of the role of the microcirculation in the supply of oxygen to tissues. Current work is applying the concepts and principles learned in normal tissues to pathophysiological situations, as well as increasing our understanding of artificial oxygen carriers, oxygen sensing, and the connections between nitric oxide and oxygen transport.

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