Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs. Hemoglobin is made up of four protein molecules (globulin chains) that are connected together. The normal adult hemoglobin (Hgb) molecule contains two alpha-globulin chains and two beta-globulin chains. In fetuses and infants, there are only a few beta chains and the hemoglobin molecule is made up of two alpha chains and two gamma chains. As the infant grows, the gamma chains are gradually replaced by beta chains. Each globulin chain contains an important central structure called the heme molecule. Embedded within the heme molecule is iron that transports the oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. The iron contained in hemoglobin is also responsible for the red color of the blood. Hemoglobin also plays an important role in maintaining the shape of the red blood cells. Abnormal hemoglobin structure can,...
References and Readings
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