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Cells require energy to carry out their functions and they typically use oxidative phosphorylation to generate the needed ATP. Thus, cells have a continuous need for oxygen, which they receive by diffusion from the blood through the interstitial fluid. The circulatory system pumps oxygen-rich blood through a network of increasingly minute vessels, the microcirculation. The structure of the microcirculation is such that all cells have at least one nearby capillary for diffusive exchange of oxygen and red blood cells release the oxygen bound to hemoglobin as they traverse capillaries. This review focuses first on the historical development of techniques to measure oxygen at various sites in the microcirculation, including the blood, interstitium, and cells. Next, approaches are described as to how these techniques have been employed to make discoveries about different aspects of oxygen transport. Finally, ways in which oxygen might participate in the regulation of blood flow toward matching oxygen supply to oxygen demand is discussed. Overall, the transport of oxygen to the cells of the body is one of the most critical functions of the cardiovascular system and it is in the microcirculation where the final local determinants of oxygen supply, oxygen demand, and their regulation are decided. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Roland N Pittman. Oxygen transport in the microcirculation and its regulation. Microcirculation (New York, N.Y. : 1994). 2013 Feb;20(2):117-37

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PMID: 23025284

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