A novel system for transcutaneous application of carbon dioxide causing an “artificial Bohr effect” in the human body


Background: Carbon dioxide (CO(2)) therapy refers to the transcutaneous administration of CO(2) for therapeutic purposes. This effect has been explained by an increase in the pressure of O(2) in tissues known as the Bohr effect. However, there have been no reports investigating the oxygen dissociation of hemoglobin (Hb) during the transcutaneous application of CO(2)in vivo. In this study, we investigate whether the Bohr effect is caused by the transcutaneous application of CO2 in the human living body.

Methods: We used a novel system for the transcutaneous application of CO(2) using pure CO(2) gas, hydrogel, and a plastic adaptor. The validity of the CO(2) hydrogel was confirmed in vitro using a measuring device for transcutaneous CO(2) absorption using rat skin. Next, we measured the pH change in the human triceps surae muscle during the transcutaneous application of CO(2) using phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((31)P-MRS) in vivo. In addition, oxy- and deoxy-Hb concentrations were measured with near-infrared spectroscopy in the human arm with occulted blood flow to investigate O2 dissociation from Hb caused by transcutaneous application of CO(2).

Results: The rat skin experiment showed that CO(2) hydrogel enhanced CO(2) gas permeation through the rat skin. The intracellular pH of the triceps surae muscle decreased significantly 10 min. after transcutaneous application of CO(2). The NIRS data show the oxy-Hb concentration decreased significantly 4 min. after CO(2) application and deoxy-Hb concentration increased significantly 2 min. after CO(2) application in the CO(2)-applied group compared to the control group. Oxy-Hb concentration significantly decreased while deoxy-Hb concentration significantly increased after transcutaneous CO(2) application.

Conclusions: Our novel transcutaneous CO(2) application facilitated an O(2) dissociation from Hb in the human body, thus providing evidence of the Bohr effect in vivo.

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