Splenectomy impairs diffusive oxygen transport in the lung of dogs

D. Merrill Dane, Connie C W Hsia, Eugene Y. Wu, Richard T. Hogg, Deborah C. Hogg, Aaron S. Estrera, Robert L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The spleen acts as an erythrocyte reservoir in highly aerobic species such as the dog and horse. Sympathetic-mediated splenic contraction during exercise reversibly enhances convective O2 transport by increasing hematocrit, blood volume, and O2-carrying capacity. Based on theoretical interactions between erythrocytes and capillary membrane (Hsia CCW, Johnson RL Jr, and Shah D. J Appl Physiol 86: 1460-1467, 1999) and experimental findings in horses of a postsplenectomy reduction in peripheral O2-diffusing capacity (Wagner PD, Erickson BK, Kubo K, Hiraga A, Kai M, Yamaya Y, Richardson R, and Seaman J. Equine Vet J 18, Suppl: 82-89, 1995), we hypothesized that splenic contraction also augments diffusive O2 transport in the lung. Therefore, we have measured lung diffusing capacity (DLCO) and its components during exercise by a rebreathing technique in six adult foxhounds before and after splenectomy. Splenectomy eliminated exercise-induced polycythemia, associated with a 30% reduction in maximal O2 uptake. At any given pulmonary blood flow, DLCO was significantly lower after splenectomy owing to a lower membrane diffusing capacity, whereas pulmonary capillary blood volume changed variably; microvascular recruitment, indicated by the slope of the increase in DLCO with respect to pulmonary blood flow, was also reduced. We conclude that splenic contraction enhances both convective and diffusive O2 transport and provides another compensatory mechanism for maintaining alveolar O2 transport in the presence of restrictive lung disease or ambient hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Blood volume
  • Canine
  • Cardiac output
  • Exercise
  • Hematocrit
  • Lung diffusing capacity
  • Maximal oxygen uptake
  • Membrane diffusing capacity
  • Pulmonary capillary blood volume
  • Red cell volume
  • Spleen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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