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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
GAS EXCHANGE EVALUATION
Minerva Anestesiologica 1999 June;65(6):377-82
Gas exchange: large surface and thin barrier determine pulmonary diffusing capacity
Weibel E. R.
Department of Anatomy and Fondation “M. E. Müller”, University of Berne
The lung is characterized by its diffusing capacity for oxygen, DLO2, which is estimated from morphometric information as a theoretical capacity. It is determined by the large gas exchange surface, the thin tissue barrier, and the amount of capillary blood. The question is asked whether DLO2 could be a limiting factor for O2 uptake in heavy exercise, particularly in athletes with their 50% higher O2 demand. This is answered by studying the relation between DLO2 and maximal O2 consumption in different sedentary and athletic mammals, comparing horse and cow, dog and goat, and, finally, the most athletic mammal, the pronghorn antelope of the Rocky Mountains. It is concluded that in athletic species the lung is just sufficient to satisfy the O2 needs and can therefore be a limiting factor for aerobic work.