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Respiratory Physiology

Example Essay Questions

1. How is the neural/chemical control of respiration achieved? What are the key receptors and pathways involved?

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2. Describe the role of haemoglobin in the transport of oxygen from the alveoli to the tissues of the body. Referring to the haemoglobin-oxygen dissociation curve, discuss the effects of (a) anaemia, (b) carbon monoxide, (c) blood pH, and (d) temperature on the ability of blood to carry oxygen.

3. Describe the three mechanisms involved in the transport of carbon dioxide from active body tissues to the alveoli of the lungs. With the use of diagrams, discuss the effects of (a) haemoglobin, (b) carbonic anhydrase, and (c) blood oxygenation on the ability of blood to carry carbon dioxide.

Example Short Answer Questions

1. Describe the alveolar and intra-pleural pressure changes that take place during a respiratory cycle and relate these to the associated airflow and volume changes in the lung

2. Describe the role of surfactant in preventing lung collapse at the end of expiration

3. During quiet breathing ventilation and perfusion (blood flow) both vary from the top to the bottom of the lungs when the body is upright. Discuss the reasons for these differences and their effect on the ventilation-perfusion ratio

4. Describe the major factors responsible for resistance to ventilation of the lungs in a normal person. How might these factors be altered in a person suffering from a) an obstructive lung disease, and b) a restrictive lung disease?


A) 1–The neural control of respiration refers to a functional interaction between a network of neurons that regulate the movement of lungs, airways and chest wall and abdomen in order to accomplish:-* effective organismal uptake of oxygen and expulsion of carbon dioxide and airways, liquids and irritants. The control of respiration is tied to the principle of homeostasis. The principal factors which control are chemical factors in the blood. The chemoreceptors send sensory input respiratory centres in the brain, which determine the appropriate response to changing variables. The medullary inspiratory centre, located in medulla oblongata,generate rhythmic nerves impulses that stimulate the contraction of inspiratory muscles, diaphragm and external intercostal muscles.

2.–As blood passes through the lungs, the haemoglobin picks up oxygen because of increased oxygen pressure in capillaries of the lung, and can then release this oxygen to body cells where oxygen pressure in tissue is lower. The carbon dioxide is then released once the red blood cell reaches the lung. Oxygen is a substance transported with the assistance of red blood cells. The red blood cells contain a pigment called haemoglobin, each molecule of which bind to four oxygen molecule. Oxyhemoglobin forms. The oxygen molecule is carried to individual cells in body tissue where they are released. The haemoglobin oxygen dissociation curve is a curve that plots the proportion of haemoglobin in its saturated form on the vertical axis against prevailing oxygen tension on the horizontal axis. The curve is important for understanding how our blood carries and release oxygen.

a) Carbon dioxide affects the curve in two ways: the first CO2accumulation causes carbamino compounds to be generated through chemical interaction, which binds to haemoglobin forming carbaminohaemoglobin, second, it influences intracellular pH due to formation of bicarbonate ion

b) Increase in temperature shifts curve to the right. If the temperature is increased keeping the O2 same, then oxygen saturation decrease because the bond between Jb and O2, gets denatured.

C) Decrease in pH shifts curve to the right, while an increase cause shifts to left.

B) 1— Intrapleural pressure refers to pressure within the pleural cavity, normally pressure within it is slightly less than atmospheric pressure which is known as negative pressure. When a pleural cavity is damaged, ruptured, and intrapleural pressure becomes equal to or exceeds atmospheric pressure. Intrapleural pressure depends on the ventilation phase, atmospheric pressure and volume of the Intrapleural cavity.

2— The main role of surfactant is to lower the surface tension of air, liquid interface within alveoli of the lung. This is needed to lower work of breathing and prevent alveolar collapse at end-expiration.