The effect of carbon monoxide on haem-facilitated oxygen diffusion

N F Britton, J D Murray

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The aim of this paper is to quantify the effect of small quantities of carbon monoxide on the facilitated diffusion of oxygen by haemoglobin in the steady state. It is the first phase in the study of a mathematical model for carbon monoxide poisoning. Here we extend the Wyman model for facilitated diffusion to the case in which there are two ligands. The equations are solved using an asymptotic technique developed by Murray. We obtain accurate analytic approximations for the biologically important quantities of the problem for various percentages of carbon monoxide. These are the concentrations of free oxygen, haemoglobin, oxyhaemoglobin and carboxyhaemoglobin, and hence the saturation of the protein and the facilitated oxygen flux. The major effect of very small quantities of carbon monoxide on the oxygen flux is shown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-67
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1977



  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Carboxyhemoglobin
  • Diffusion
  • Hemoglobins
  • Kinetics
  • Membranes
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxygen
  • Oxyhemoglobins

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