Transit time dispersion in pulmonary and systemic circulation: Effects of cardiac output and solute diffusivity

Michael Weiss*, Tom C. Krejcie, Michael J. Avram

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We present an in vivo method for analyzing the distribution kinetics of physiological markers into their respective distribution volumes utilizing information provided by the relative dispersion of transit times. Arterial concentration-time curves of markers of the vascular space [indocyanine green (ICG)], extracellular fluid (inulin), and total body water (antipyrine) measured in awake dogs under control conditions and during phenylephrine or isoproterenol infusion were analyzed by a recirculatory model to estimate the relative dispersions of transit times across the systemic and pulmonary circulation. The transit time dispersion in the systemic circulation was used to calculate the whole body distribution clearance, and an interpretation is given in terms of a lumped organ model of blood-tissue exchange. As predicted by theory, this relative dispersion increased linearly with cardiac output, with a slope that was inversely related to solute diffusivity. The relative dispersion of the flow-limited indicator antipyrine exceeded that of ICG (as a measure of intravascular mixing) only slightly and was consistent with a diffusional equilibration time in the extravascular space of ∼10 min, except during phenylephrine infusion, which led to an anomalously high relative dispersion. A change in cardiac output did not alter the heterogeneity of capillary transit times of ICG. The results support the view that the relative dispersions of transit times in the systemic and pulmonary circulation estimated from solute disposition data in vivo are useful measures of whole body distribution kinetics of indicators and endogenous substances. This is the first model that explains the effect of flow and capillary permeability on whole body distribution of solutes without assuming well-mixed compartments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H861-H870
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


  • Circulatory mixing
  • Diffusion
  • Indicator dilution
  • Permeation kinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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