Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary To estimate the advantage of the small red blood cells (RBC) of high-altitude camelids for O2 transfer, the kinetics of O2 uptake into and release from the RBC obtained from llama, vicuña and alpaca were investigated at 37°C with a stopped-flow technique. O2 transfer conductance of RBC (G) was estimated from the rate of O2 saturation change and the corresponding O2 pressure difference between medium and hemoglobin. For comparison, O2 kinetics for the RBC of a lowaltitude camelid (dromedary camel) and the pygmy goat were determined and previously measured values for human RBC were used. O2 transfer of RBC was found to be strongly influenced by extracellular diffusion, except with O2 release into dithionite solutions of sufficiently high concentration (〉30 mM). TheG values measured in these ‘standard’ conditions,G st (in mmol · min−1 · Torr−1 · (ml RBC)−1) were: high-altitude camelids, 0.58 (averaged for llama, alpaca and vicuña since there were no significant interspecific differences); camel 0.42; goat, 0.42; man, 0.39. The differences can in part be attributed to expected effects of the size and shape of the RBC (volume, surface area, mean thickness), as well as to the intracellular O2 diffusivity which depends on the concentration of cellular hemoglobin. The highG st of RBC of highaltitude camelids may be considered to enhance O2 transfer in lungs and tissues. But the O2 transfer conductance of blood, θ, equal toG st multiplied by hematocrit (in mmol · min−1 · Torr−1 · (ml blood)−1), was only slightly higher as compared to other species: 0.20 (llama, alpaca, vicuña), 0.14 (camel), 0.18 (goat), 0.17 (man).
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