Alveolar-capillary barrier

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Alveolar-capillary barrier
File:Alveoli.svg
Gaseous exchange in the lung.
MeSH Blood-Air+Barrier
Dorlands/Elsevier m_08/12522385

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Overview

The alveolar-capillary barrier (or membrane, or blood-air barrier) exists in the gas exchanging region of the lungs. It exists to prevent air bubbles from forming in the blood, and from blood entering the alveoli. It is formed by the type 1 pneumocytes of the alveolar wall, the endothelial cells of the capillaries and the basement membrane between the two cells. The barrier is permeable to molecular oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and many other gases.[1]

This blood gas barrier is extremely thin (600-800 nm; some places merely 200 nm) so as to allow sufficient oxygen diffusion, yet it is extremely strong. This strength comes from the type 4 collagen in between the endothelial and epithelial cells. Damage can occur to this barrier at pressures of around 40mmhg. Failure of the barrier is often seen in racehorses and other domesticated horses due to exercise induced blood pressure rising above normal.

See also

References

  1. Sheenan Kindlen. Physiology for Health Care and Nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 130. ISBN 0443071160. 

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