General Chemistry

Oxygen Transport via Metal Complexes

An adult at rest consumes the equivalent of 250 ml of pure oxygen per minute. This oxygen is used to provide energy for all the tissues and organs of the body, even when the body is at rest. The body's oxygen needs increase dramatically during exercise or other strenuous activities. The oxygen is carried in the blood from the lungs to the tissues where it is consumed. However, only about 1.5% of the oxygen transported in the blood is dissolved directly in the blood plasma. Transporting the large amount of oxygen required by the body, and allowing it to leave the blood when it reaches the tissues that demand the most oxygen, require a more sophisticated mechanism than simply dissolving the gas in the blood. To meet this challenge, the body is equipped with a finely-tuned transport system that centers on the metal complex heme.


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This page created by Matt Traverso, Washington University in St Louis.
© 2004, Washington University.
Materials and Information present may be reproduced for educational purposes only.

Revised: 2004-08-08