In simplest terms, hemoglobin gives the color red to our blood. It is a protein molecule, which shows a high affinity for oxygen. It has a four-ring structure with iron in the form of ferrous in the center. It is made of chains of different proteins. One chain is made up of 141 amino acids and is designated as Î±. The other chain has 146 amino acids and is called Î². There are two of each Î± and Î² chains, that are arranged in a form of tetrahedral structure and interacts by hydrogen bonding, hydrophobic interactions, and salt bridges or ion pairs between oppositely charged amino acid side chains.
Oxygen doesnâ€™t naturally have a tendency to bind with deoxy-hemoglobin. When a single molecule of oxygen binds with the heme, the Fe atom is drawn into the plane. This causes a conformational transition of the molecule and makes binding easy at the adjacent sub-units. This is called an allosteric effect making hemoglobin, an allosteric protein. Due to this oxygen-binding increases rapidly resulting in the sigmoidal curve of oxygen saturation in hemoglobin. It describes the relationship between partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) and oxygen saturation (SO2).The presence of allosteric effectors influences the sigmoid shape of the graph, and their absence eventually causes the hyperbolic form of the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve. Oxygen saturation levels need to be monitored vigilantly in the field of patient care. Hypoxemia can have severe side effects on various systems of the body. It is measured directly by blood-gas analysis to find the partial pressure of oxygen in the arteries. Indirectly we may also use a pulse oximeter to measure the oxygen saturation.
This oxygenated blood travels to the heart and is further pumped to the various body parts. This oxygenated blood is carried to the capillaries surrounding tissues where oxygen diffuses into the cell and metabolic waste, carbon dioxide diffuses out from the cell into blood. Several factors may affect this exchange of gases such as partial pressure gradients occurs in between the blood and the tissues, the surface areas of these tissues, and the blood perfusion of the tissues. All of these factors are directly proportional to exchange i.e. increase in the factor will increase the diffusion. Oxygen is not the only gas transferred by blood. CO2 is also transported by blood in three forms: dissolved in plasma, bound to hemoglobin as carbaminohemoglobin, and as bicarbonate ions. The pH of blood becomes detrimental to shaping the amount of CO2 that may be carried as bicarbonate ion. Increased CO2 will lead to an increase in bicarbonate ions. This will decrease the pH of blood because of the increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions. However, if the CO2 level decreases carbonate ion and hydrogen ion concentration will also decrease. This will cause an increase in pH and cause blood to become alkaline. Thus, bicarbonate ions act as a buffer to maintain a neutral pH of the blood. The gas exchange across various surfaces occurs through diffusion. The gas is transported along a concentration gradient. Molecules of gas will travel from higher concentration to lower concentration areas. It is by this phenomenon that blood low in O2 and rich in CO2 undergoes gaseous exchange in the lungs. The partial pressure of a gas is the amount of individual gas in a mixture of gases. It is important as the mixture of gases, we usually inhale. It has been observed that the rate of diffusion of a gas is in proportion to its partial pressure within the mixture.
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