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Respiratory System
respiration at the multicellular level (breathing)
involves taking oxygen from the environment and
returning carbon dioxide to it (breathing)
breathing is necessary to bring enough nutrients
and oxygen to all cells in a multicellular organism
(where diffusion just isnt enough)

Respiration: Stages & Structures

Breathing involves two basic processes:
inspiration (breathing in, or inhaling) and
expiration (breathing out, or exhaling).
Inspiration moves air from the external
environment to the lungs inside the body.
Expiration moves air from the lungs back
to the external environment.

External respiration is the exchange of

oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air
and the blood.
Internal respiration is the exchange of
oxygen and carbon dioxide between the
bodys tissue cells and the blood.

brings oxygen to where diffusion can take
place (bulk flow)
facilitates diffusion into the transport
the circulatory system brings the oxygen
to the cells (bulk flow)
oxygen is brought into cells by diffusion
across the membrane

The Respiratory System

as air passes through the nasal cavity, it is
warmed and moistened
Lysozyme, defensins
the passages are lined with hair and later
cilia and mucous to help trap foreign
invaders and sweep them into the pharynx
where they are swallowed, sneezed or
coughed out-

the warmed air passes by the epiglottis

and down the trachea which is lined with
cartilage to prevent the trachea from
collapsing or being damaged
the opening (slit) to the trachea is called the
the air passes by the enlargement of the
trachea, the larynx, where the vocal cords are

the trachea is also lined with cilia and

mucous-secreting cells
which beat 20x per minute to move the
trapped particles up to the pharynx
Smokers cilia

just above the heart, the trachea branches

into two bronchi
Bronchi branch again into bronchioles
which branch smaller and smaller only
the smallest of the bronchioles lack
cartilage- branch 23 times

at the end, the terminal bronchioles (the

last ones) end at a group of alveolar ducts
and sacs called alveoli
the specialized structures for gas exchange

the lungs are each encased in a doublemembraned sac, the pleura which allow
the lungs to expand and contract freely
the diaphragm separates the lungs (in the
thoracic cavity) from the peritoneal cavity,
where the digestive organs are located

are specialized for optimal diffusion
moist membrane
large surface area
thin walls for diffusion (1m across)
immediately adjacent to pulmonary capillaries,
which are just large enough for a RBC to get
the inner surface of the alveoli are covered with a
single layer of lipid called surfactant
which reduces the surface tension in the alveoli allowing
them to easily expand to twice their size with each breath

when a baby is born, the first cry and

breath must expand the alveoli without the
aid of surfactant
the lipid layer is immediately formed making
breathing easier, and oxygen diffusion more
efficient (by surface area since surfactant
aids in the expansion of the alveoli)
for premature babies, the lungs may not be
completely mature. Doctors must support
breathing until the babys lungs develop by
giving them air with a higher oxygen

-Each bronchiole ends in several clusters of alveoli.

-Surrounding each alveolus is a fine network of
capillaries from the circulatory system.
-Gas exchange occurs between the blood in the
capillaries and the air in the alveolus, so that blood
leaving the lungs has a high oxygen content.

Mechanics of Breathing
breathing involves two processes, inhalation
and exhalation
Inhalation: an active process (using energy)
where one breath is drawn into the lungs with the
aid of muscle contractions
air is drawn into the lungs when the thoracic
cavity expands in size, and since the pleural
cavity is sealed, decreasing the pressure of the
cavity, which pulls air in from the environment

depending on the depth of breathing,

a number of muscles will be involved
Diaphragm: contracts, moving
intercostal muscles (between the ribs):
contract, expanding the chest cavity
neck muscles: contract, raising the top
two ribs

Exhalation: generally a passive process

(unless breathing very deeply) where one
breath is expelled as the muscles above relax
as the muscles relax, the size of the
thoracic cavity is decreased, increasing the
pressure, forcing the gas out of the lungs
when breathing deeply, more air may be
exhaled with the contraction of the
abdominal muscles

The Mechanics of Breathing

Lung Volumes
the lung volume (total lung capacity) of the
average male is 5.7 L, the average female,
4.2 L, including the residual volume
residual volume is the amount of air that
remains in the lungs after maximum
expiration, keeping the lungs partially
inflated (about 1 L)
during quiet breathing, lungs generally
inflate from 2.2 L to 2.7 L (the amount of air
inhaled during quiet breathing, about 500
mL is the tidal volume)

The largest breath you can take is called

vital capacity
involves expanding the lungs to a greater
extent than normal (recruiting the diaphragm,
intercostals and neck muscles), and exhaling
actively by recruiting the abdominal muscles

Vital capacity includes tidal volume, the

extra you can inhale (inspiratory reserve
volume) and the extra you can exhale
(expiratory reserve volume)

Of the 500 mL inhaled with every normal

breath, only about 0.35 L reaches the alveoli
(the rest fills the trachea, bronchi and
with an average respiratory rate (#
breaths/minute) of 10, the amount of air
exchanged per minute is 3.5L

Lung volumes will be affected by height and

gender in that thoracic cavity size will be
affected which affects the lung size

Exercise performed over an extended

period of time will strengthen the muscles
involved in breathing which will increase
tidal volume and vital capacity
Illness can reduce vital capacity and tidal
volume by affecting the number of alveoli
that can successfully exchange oxygen, or
by weakening the muscles in breathing

A Typical Spirograph

External vs. Internal Respiration

A) External respiration
- occurs between alveoli and the capillaries
next to them.
- As blood moves away from the body tissues,
it is oxygen-poor and carbon dioxide-rich.
- As it moves through the lung capillaries,
oxygen from the air in the alveoli diffuses into
the capillaries and carbon dioxide diffuses out
of the blood.
B) Internal respiration
- occurs between the capillaries and the body
- Oxygen diffuses from the blood into the
oxygen-poor tissues while carbon dioxide
diffuses from the tissues into the blood.

Gas Exchange and Transport

oxygen and carbon dioxide must diffuse through the layer of
cells lining the alveolus and the layer of cells lining the
pulmonary capillary to enter/exit the blood.
The gas must also diffuse across the membrane of the
RBC to attach to a hemoglobin molecule

98.5% of oxygen is carried on the heme
group of the hemoglobin on the RBC
oxygen binds reversibly to hemoglobin to
form oxyhemoglobin (HbO2) in a reversible

the attaching of oxygen to hemoglobin is

affected by the following
concentration of oxygen oxygen, binding,
oxygen, binding (allows oxygen to be released
and diffuse into tissues over the entire capillary
length gradually)
pH - pH, binding ( pH means CO2)
temperature - temp, binding
these conditions favour the release of oxygen in
tissues that are metabolically active (undergoing
lots of cellular respiration)

Carbon Dioxide
is transported three ways in the blood
7% dissolved in the blood plasma
23% carried on the hemoglobin molecule as
carbaminohemoglobin (HbCO2)
70% is carried as carbonic acid/carbonate ion
CO2(g) + H2O(l) H2CO3(aq) HCO3-(aq) + H+(aq)

with the aid of the enzyme carbonic anydrase,

the reaction between carbon dioxide and water
is enhanced, which removes the carbon dioxide
from the plasma, maintaining the concentration
gradient from the tissues to the plasma,
ensuring diffusion
the HCO3-(aq)/ H2CO3(aq) behaves as a blood
buffer to help maintain the appropriate pH for
enzyme activity

Controlling Breathing Rate

to deliver the optimal quantity of oxygen to the tissues,
the body will HR and alter BP (via baroreceptors
and chemosensors) but unless the breathing rate is
matched, oxygen transport will not be effective
the nervous system will match rate and magnitude of
breathing to the heart rate and blood pressure
the medulla oblongata will control breathing rate
the pons smoothes out the rhythm of the respiration
chemoreceptors monitor pH ( CO2(g) pH)
receptors in the aorta and carotid arteries monitor
O2(g) in arterial blood
Histamine (constricts) adrenaline (dilates)

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils, which are located in the
pharynx. A viral infection, rather than a bacterial infection, is the
more common cause of tonsillitis. The tonsils can be removed
surgically if the infections are frequent and breathing is impaired.
In the past, many children had their tonsils removed as a
precaution, but this surgery is no longer as common. The tonsils
help to prevent bacteria and other foreign pathogens from
entering the body, so removing them can increase the number of
infections later in life.
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. Recall that the larynx
contains the vocal cords. The most common cause of laryngitis is
a viral infection; allergies and overstraining of the voice can also
lead to laryngitis. When the larynx is inflamed, the vocal cords are
not able to vibrate as they normally do. This reduces the ability to
speak in a normal voice or even to speak at all. Symptoms of
laryngitis include a sore throat and hoarseness.
Glottis opens and closes to produce speech

Lower Respiratory Tract Infections

Bronchitis is a disorder that causes the bronchi to become inflamed and filled
with mucus, which is expelled by coughing.
Pneumonia is a disease that occurs when the alveoli in the lungs become
inflamed and fill with liquids. This interferes with gas exchange, and the body
becomes starved for oxygen.
Pleurisy is a lung disorder that is caused by the swelling and irritation of the
pleura, the membranes that surround the lungs.
Emphysema is an obstructive respiratory disorder in which the walls of the
alveoli break down and lose their elasticity. This reduces the surface area for
gas exchange and causes oxygen shortages in the tissues.
Cystic fibrosis is a serious genetic condition that affects the lungs. Cystic
fibrosis is caused by an abnormal gene that disrupts the function of the cells
lining the passageways of the lungs.
Asthma is a chronic obstructive lung disease that affects the bronchi and
bronchioles, making breathing difficult or impossible because of reduced air
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled and invasive growth of abnormal cells in the
lungs. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women in Canada.

Lower Respiratory Tract


Normal Lungs vs. Diseased Lungs

(A) These normal lungs have healthy red tissue. (The heart
is visible near the lower centre.) (B) These diseased lungs
have black tissue caused by heavy smoking. The white
areas are tumours, or carcinomas.