Stratification does not limit O2 uptake in rabbit lungs
This study was performed to assess the role of stratification, i.e. axial gas mixing deficit within alveolar space, in limiting alveolar gas exchange for oxygen. The single-breath method for varying breath-holding time with oxygen-labelled carbon dioxide, C18O2, was applied to 10 anaesthetized, paralysed and artificially ventilated rabbits. Alveolar partial pressure of C18O2 was analysed using respiratory mass spectrometry. Starting from residual volume, the lungs were rapidly inflated using 40 mL of indicator gas mixture (1% C18O2 in nitrogen). After executing breath-holding, the lungs were rapidly deflated. Pulmonary diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide was determined in the same way. On the basis of a serial compartment model, the lower limit of the stratificational conductance of oxygen was estimated, using the rate constant of C18O2 removal from alveolar space (4 s−1) and Graham's law. We found that the stratificational conductance in rabbits amounts to at least 13.5 mL mmHg−1 min−1. The pulmonary diffusing capacity of oxygen was calculated by multiplying the carbon monoxide diffusing capacity of rabbit lungs by a factor of 1.2, yielding a value of 0.77 mL mmHg−1 min−1. These results show that stratificational conductance is at least 17.5 times higher than pulmonary oxygen diffusing capacity, indicating that stratification does not limit oxygen uptake in rabbit lungs.
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