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Effects of red blood cell HCO3(-)/Cl- exchange kinetics on lung CO2 transfer: theory.


A mathematical model has been used to study the influences of the kinetics of erythrocyte HCO3(-)/Cl-- exchange on CO2 elimination in the lung. In addition to the chloride shift, the model includes 1) CO2-H2CO3 hydration-dehydration reactions in plasma and erythrocytes; 2) CO2 reactions with hemoglobin; 3) O2 binding to hemoglobin; 4)buffering of H+ intra- and extracellularly; 5) red cell volume changes; and 6) diffusion of gases between alveoli and blood. Carbonic anhydrase activity was assumed to be available to plasma as it passes through the lung capillaries. The results show that a reduction of PHCO3(-) leads to a reduction in pulmonary CO2 elimination of up to 30%, whether or not carbonic anhydrase activity is available to plasma. Characteristic slow downstream pH and PCO2 changes predicted for each case may represent an explanation for the apparent discrepancy between in vivo and in vitro slow downstream pH changes reported previously. We conclude that red cell HCO3(-)/Cl- exchange partially limits CO2 elimination from blood in the lung and may have a major influence on capillary gas transfer when its speed is abnormally slow.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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