Oxygen transport during exercise in large mammals. II. Oxygen uptake by the pulmonary gas exchanger

M. Constantinopol, James H Jones, E. R. Weibel, C. R. Taylor, A. Lindholm, R. H. Karas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Because the maximal rate of O2 consumption (V̇O(2max)) of the horse is 2.6 times larger than that of steers of equal size, we wondered whether their pulmonary gas exchanger is proportionately larger. Three Standardbred racehorses [body mass (M(b)) = 447 kg] and three domestic steers (M(b) = 474 kg) whose cardiovascular function at V̇O(2max) had been thoroughly studied (Jones et al. J. Appl. Physiol. 67: 862-870, 1989) were used to study their lungs by morphometry. The basic morphometric parameters were similar in both species. The nearly 2 times larger lung volumes of the horses caused the gas exchange surfaces and capillary blood volume to be 1.6 to 1.8 times larger. Morphometric pulmonary diffusing capacity was 2 times larger in the horse than in the steer; the 2.6-fold greater rate of O2 uptake thus required the alveolar-capillary PO2 difference to be 1.3 times larger in the horse than in the steer. Combining physiological and morphometric data, we calculated capillary transit time at V̇O(2max) to be 0.4-0.5 s. Bohr integration showed capillary blood to be equilibrated with alveolar air after 75 and 58% of transit time in horses and steers, respectively; horses maintain a smaller degree of redundancy in their pulmonary gas exchanger.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-878
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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