Human red cell age, oxygen affinity and oxygen transport

Michele Samaja, Ermanna Rovida, Roberto Motterlini, Massimo Tarantola, Alessandro Rubinacci, Pietro E. diPrampero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The [2,3-DPG]/[Hb] ratio and the P50 were found to be lower in the 10% denser (old) than in the 10% lighter (young) red blood cell (RBC) fractions (0.57 ± 0.13 vs 0.96 ± 0.13 and 23.02 ± 0.85 vs 27.47 ± 1.05 Torr, respectively, mean ± SD, P <0.0005 for both, n = 6). The RBC aging processes appear thus to affect the RBC oxygen affinity. However, the [2,3-DPG] changes do not fully explain the drop of P50 as measured at constant [H+], [CO2] and [HbCO]. It is therefore postulated that an additional factor is involved in the regulation of the oxygen affinity in the ageing RBC. The RBC density in 59 normal individuals mathced for age (infants, adult, and aged) and for sex was found to be younger in adult females than in all other groups (P <0.0005), including an age-matched group of pregnant women. Correspondingly, the [2,3-DPG]/[Hb] ratio and the P50 are higher in adult females than in adult males (0.92 ± 0.10 vs 0.82 ± 0.09, P <0.009, and 29.03 ± 1.07 vs 27.72 ± 0.82 Torr, P <0.002, respectively). These data are evaluated in terms of the efficiency of the oxygen transport calculating the circulatory load required to transport a given amout of oxygen to the tissues. The results indicate that the lower oxygen affinity (due to the younger RBC population) in adult female partially compensates for their lower [Hb].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-79
Number of pages11
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1990


  • Blood
  • DPG
  • Erythrocyte
  • Human
  • Oxygen affinity
  • P
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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  • Cite this

    Samaja, M., Rovida, E., Motterlini, R., Tarantola, M., Rubinacci, A., & diPrampero, P. E. (1990). Human red cell age, oxygen affinity and oxygen transport. Respiration Physiology, 79(1), 69-79.