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Structure and Function of the Pulmonary System

Pulmonary System
Made up of two lungs
Where gas exchange takes place

To get air to lungs

Blood vessels
To circulate oxygen and carbon dioxide

Chest wall
To move air in and out of lungs through pressure changes and protect lungs

Can divide respiratory system into two parts:
Upper respiratory tract : nasal cavity, pharynx Lower respiratory tract: larynx, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli

Upper respiratory tract serves to conduct air into the body, and filter, warm and humidify the air.

Two lungs Right lung has 3 lobes and two fissures Left lung has 2 lobes and one fissure Blood vessels and bronchi enter at hilus

Small, thin air sacs surrounded by a hair net of capillaries Most of the walls of the alveoli are made up of simple squamous epithelium, called Type 1 alveolar cells. Gas exchange takes place through these cells

Other cells of the alveoli

Type II alveolar cells produce surfactant (lipoprotein) to decrease the surface tension of water in the lungs
Premature infants respiratory-distress syndrome of the newborn

Alveolar macrophages, or dust cells phagocytize foreign particles and microbes

Respiratory membrane
Made of alveolar type I cell, endothelium of capillary and their basement membranes. As thin as possible for gas exchange which takes place by diffusion from areas of high partial pressure to low partial pressure Any disorder that thickens the membrane decreases gas exchange.

Usually, about one third of the pulmonary vessels are perfused at one time, so if right heart output increases does not increase arterial pressure in lungs, simply perfuse more vessels.

Lungs are surrounded by pleural membranes : parietal pleura and visceral pleura Separate by the mediastinum Enclosed in the thoracic cavity.

Pulmonary ventilation (breathing)

Takes place by decreasing the pressure inside the thoracic cavity, and allowing atmospheric pressure to force air into lungs. Thoracic cavity is expanded primarily by the contraction and lowering of the diaphragm, but is aided by expansion of chest by contraction of the external intercostal muscles.

Is normally a passive process due to the relaxing of the inspiratory muscles and the elastic recoil of the lungs.

Respiratory volumes
Amount of air moved in and out of lungs Tidal volume is the amount of air moved with a normal breath Minute volume of respiration = tidal volume X breaths per minute

Peripheral Chemoreceptors
Carotid bodies and aortic bodies Stimulated by oxygen concentration decrease Send impulses to respiratory centers, and breathing increases Not triggered until O2 is very low (50 mm Hg)

Oxygen transport
Gases move down partial pressure gradient. 98 % of oxygen is bound to the iron in hemoglobin as oxyhemoglobin (HbO2) Rest is dissolved in plasma 4 Iron atoms per hemoglobin molecule 1 hemoglobin molecule can hold up to 4 molecules of oxygen Amount of oxygen on hemoglobin is determined by partial pressure of oxygen.

Carbon Dioxide Transport

7 % is dissolved in plasma 23 % combines with the amino groups of the hemoglobin forming carbaminohemoglobin 70 % is converted to bicarbonate ions

Control of pulmonary circulation

In most areas of the body, hypoxia causes vasodilation. Low oxygen concentrations in the alveoli of the lungs cause vasoconstriction. This sends blood to areas of the lung that have higher oxygen concentrations Chronic alveolar hypoxia can lead to permanent pulmonary artery hypertension, which can lead to right heart failure. Acidemia also causes pulmonary artery constriction