Gas Exchange in the Lungs

  • Frank C. Hoppensteadt
  • Charles S. Peskin
Part of the Texts in Applied Mathematics book series (TAM, volume 10)


The lungs contain about 3 x 108 alveoli (little sacs) in which air and blood are brought close together so that gas exchange can occur. The principal gases exchanged are O 2, which is picked up by the blood and CO 2, which leaves the blood stream and enters the air spaces of the lung. These gases need to cross the thin alveolar—capillary membrane; this occurs by diffusion. In normal circumstances, the alveolar—capillary membrane presents so slight a barrier to diffusion that the blood in the alveolar capillaries achieves equilibrium with the alveolar air before leaving the capillaries.


Partial Pressure Alveolar Ventilation Arterial Partial Pressure Perfusion Ratio Alveolar Capillary 
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Annotated References

This Chapter is strongly influenced by the following book, which emphasizes the importance of the ratio of ventilation to perfusion

  1. West, J.B.: Ventilation/Blood Flow and Gas Exchange, Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 1965.Google Scholar

The following paper also addresses the specific issue of optimal gas transport, which is the dominant theme of this Chapter

  1. Evans, J.W., Wagner, and West, J.B.: Conditions for reduction of pulmonary gas transfer by ventilation—perfusion inequality. Journal of Applied Physiology, 36, 535–567, 1974.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank C. Hoppensteadt
    • 1
  • Charles S. Peskin
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Natural ScienceMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Courant Institute of Mathematical SciencesNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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