Oxygen in Human Physiology

Authors: Nigel Harrison, Peter Driscoll, Carl Gwinnutt / Editors: Jason Kendall / Reviewer: Nick Blundell, Phil Delbridge / Codes: A2, R1 / Published: 11/08/2022

This session will review the transfer of oxygen from the atmosphere to the body’s tissues.

After completing this session you will be able to:

  • Define the important gas laws that govern the carriage of necessary gases from the atmosphere to the pulmonary capillaries and beyond
  • Explain the transport of oxygen in blood and implications of hypoxia and hypoxaemia
  • Describe the effects of various physiological factors on the binding of oxygen to haemoglobin as related to the oxygen-haemoglobin dissociation curve
  • Recognise the value of therapies in relieving hypoxia and hypoxaemia
  • Explain the pulmonary influences on acid-base homeostasis and processes that destabilise the normal equilibrium in clinical disease


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  3. Lamb JF, Ingram CG, Johnston IA. Essentials Of Physiology. 3rd edn. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1991.
  4. Ward JP, Clarke RJ. Physiology At A Glance. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2005.
  5. West JB. Respiratory Physiology, The Essentials. 9th edn. Baltimore. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2004.
  6. Roberts F. Respiratory Physiology. In: Wilson I, (ed.) Update In Anaesthesia. Publications Committee WFSA, 2000;12:11, UK.
  7. Cruickshank S, Hirschauer N. The alveolar gas equation. Continuing Education in Anaesthesia Critical Care & Pain. Vol 4, Issue 1, 2004; 24-27.
  8. Laws of gas transport. Hyperphysics.

Additional Resources

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