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June 19, 1937


JAMA. 1937;108(25):2125-2126. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780250039011

The mode of transport of carbon dioxide by the blood, closely linked with the acid-base balance, has been much studied during the past two decades, especially in America, Great Britain and Denmark. Noteworthy discoveries have made this one of the most fascinating chapters in modern physiology. Oxygen, a neutral gas, and carbon dioxide, which forms carbonic acid when dissolved in water, are exchanged for each other in the lungs and in the tissues; nevertheless the organism maintains the degree of alkalinity of the plasma at an almost constant level. L. J. Henderson1 made the brilliant deduction, later abundantly confirmed, that hemoglobin when combined with oxygen is a stronger acid than when in the reduced state. This variability in the acid strength of hemoglobin, he concluded, is the chief factor in preventing the plasma from becoming more alkaline in the lungs and acid in the tissues. In the latter case,

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