Wall shear stress differentially affects NO level in arterioles for volume expanders and Hb-based O2 carriers.
We compared rates of oxygen transport in an in vitro capillary system using red blood cells (RBCs) and cell-free hemoglobins. The axial PO(2) drop down the capillary was calculated using finite-element analysis. RBCs, unmodified hemoglobin (HbA(0)), cross-linked hemoglobin (alpha alpha-Hb) and hemoglobin conjugated to polyethylene-glycol (PEG-Hb) were evaluated. According to their fractional saturation curves, PEG-Hb showed the least desaturation down the capillary, which most closely matched the RBCs; HbA(0) and alpha alpha-Hb showed much greater desaturation. A lumped diffusion parameter, K*, was calculated based on the Fick diffusion equation with a term for facilitated diffusion. The overall rates of oxygen transfer are consistent with hemoglobin diffusion rates according to the Stokes-Einstein Law and with previously measured blood pressure responses in rats. This study provides a conceptual framework for the design of a 'blood substitute' based on mimicking O(2) transport by RBCs to prevent autoregulatory changes in blood flow and pressure.