, Volume 159, Issue 6, pp 655-660

Oxygen transport in the blood of arctic mammals: adaptation to local heterothermia

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The oxygen binding of whole blood from humans and two arctic mammals, reindeer and muskox, has been studied as a function of carbon dioxide and temperature. All bloods display a marked Bohr effect with Bohr coefficients in the range −0.44–−0.73. The Bohr effect is more pronounced at 20°C. The temperature sensitivity of reindeer and muskox blood expressed by the apparent heat of oxygenation, δH, is almost three times lower than that of human HbA under the same experimental conditions. This thermodynamic difference gives special benefits to arctic mammals with large heterothermy by safeguarding oxygen unloading at very low ambient temperatures.