Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Roland Pittman


The main function of the cardiovascular system is to deliver a sufficient quantity of oxygenated blood to the tissues, cells, and organs of the body in order to provide the cells with essential nutrients for metabolism and for the removal of waste products. All cells require and utilize oxygen. Oxygen is transported to various cells and tissues via red blood cells flowing through the microcirculation of an organism. Measurement of oxygen transport in the microcirculation has shown that about ten times more oxygen appears to leave the blood of arterioles than can be accounted for by diffusion. One possibility to explain the high oxygen loss is an increased release of oxygen due to exposure of blood to light. In the present in vitro study the release of oxygen from red blood cells was measured during exposure of the sample to light by monitoring the change in PO2 of the suspension during light exposure. A PO2 electrode was calibrated using PBS solution and utilized to monitor the change in current in the present study. Red blood cell suspensions were made using blood withdrawn from male Sprague-Dawley rats. The red blood cell suspension was placed in a closed sample chamber and exposed to light for 5 minutes. A method to correct for the drift of the PO2 electrode and temperature change during the experiment was implemented. The calculated change in PO2 of the RBC suspension due to light exposure was small. The change of PO2 in the sample chamber during light exposure was an average of 1.60 ± 0.9 mmHg (SEM). The contribution of photo-dissociation of oxygen from oxygenated hemoglobin molecules to the observed oxygen loss per RBC can account for only about 0.01% of the observed in vivo results. Therefore, light-associated oxygen release is negligible. These findings disprove the hypothesis of the present study, in which light exposure does not have a significant effect on oxygen release and thus rules out this possible explanation for the discrepancy between experiment and theory.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2008

Included in

Physiology Commons