Roles of intra- and extracellular carbonic anhydrase in alveolar-capillary CO2 equilibration

T. A. Heming*, E. K. Stabenau, C. G. Vanoye, H. Moghadasi, A. Bidani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Alveolar-capillary CO2 equilibration involves diffusive equilibration of CO2 across the blood-gas barrier and chemical equilibration of perfusate CO2-HCO3/--H+ reactions. These processes are governed by different, but related, driving forces and conductances. The present study examined the importance of pulmonary carbonic anhydrase (CA) for diffusive and reactive CO2 equilibration in isolated rat lungs. Lungs were perfused with salines containing membrane-impermeant or -permeant inhibitors of CA. Measurements of CO2 excretion rate, equilibrated venous and arterial PCO2 and pH, and postcapillary pH and PCO2 disequilibria were used, together with our previous model of CO2-HCO3/--H+ reactions and transport in saline- perfused capillaries (Bidani et al. J. Appl. Physiol. 55: 75-83, 1983), to compute the relevant driving forces and conductances. Reactive CO2 equilibration was markedly affected by extracellular (vascular) CA activity but not by the activity of intracellular (cytosolic) CA. The driving force for CO2 diffusion was strongly influenced by vascular CA activity. The conductance for CO2 diffusion was independent of CA activity. The minimum conductance for CO2 diffusion was estimated to be 700-800 ml · min-1 · Torr-1. The results indicate that extracellular vascular CA activity influences both diffusive and reactive CO2 equilibration. However, cytosolic CA has no detectable role in alveolar-capillary CO2 equilibration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-705
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994


  • diffusing capacity
  • pH disequilibria
  • rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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