Importance of mitochondrial PO2 in maximal O2 transport and utilization: A theoretical analysis

I. Cano, M. Mickael, D. Gomez-Cabrero, J. Tegnér, J. Roca, P. D. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In previous calculations of how the O2 transport system limits V̇O2max, it was reasonably assumed that mitochondrial PO2 (PmO2) could be neglected (set to zero). However, in reality, PmO2 must exceed zero and the red cell to mitochondrion diffusion gradient may therefore be reduced, impairing diffusive transport of O2 and V̇O2max. Accordingly, we investigated the influence of PmO2 on these calculations by coupling previously used equations for O2 transport to one for mitochondrial respiration relating mitochondrial V̇O2 to PO2. This hyperbolic function, characterized by its P50 and V̇MAX, allowed PmO2 to become a model output (rather than set to zero as previously). Simulations using data from exercising normal subjects showed that at V̇O2max, PmO2 was usually <1mmHg, and that the effects on V̇O2max were minimal. However, when O2 transport capacity exceeded mitochondrial V̇MAX, or if P50 were elevated, PmO2 often reached double digit values, thereby reducing the diffusion gradient and significantly decreasing V̇O2max.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-483
Number of pages7
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioenergetics
  • Mitochondrial P
  • Mitochondrial respiration
  • Oxygen transport
  • V̇max

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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