A computational model of oxygen delivery by hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers in three-dimensional microvascular networks

J Theor Biol. 2007 Oct 21;248(4):657-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.06.012. Epub 2007 Jun 16.


A detailed computational model is developed to simulate oxygen transport from a three-dimensional (3D) microvascular network to the surrounding tissue in the presence of hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers. The model accounts for nonlinear O(2) consumption, myoglobin-facilitated diffusion and nonlinear oxyhemoglobin dissociation in the RBCs and plasma. It also includes a detailed description of intravascular resistance to O(2) transport and is capable of incorporating realistic 3D microvascular network geometries. Simulations in this study were performed using a computer-generated microvascular architecture that mimics morphometric parameters for the hamster cheek pouch retractor muscle. Theoretical results are presented next to corresponding experimental data. Phosphorescence quenching microscopy provided PO(2) measurements at the arteriolar and venular ends of capillaries in the hamster retractor muscle before and after isovolemic hemodilution with three different hemodilutents: a non-oxygen-carrying plasma expander and two hemoglobin solutions with different oxygen affinities. Sample results in a microvascular network show an enhancement of diffusive shunting between arterioles, venules and capillaries and a decrease in hemoglobin's effectiveness for tissue oxygenation when its affinity for O(2) is decreased. Model simulations suggest that microvascular network anatomy can affect the optimal hemoglobin affinity for reducing tissue hypoxia. O(2) transport simulations in realistic representations of microvascular networks should provide a theoretical framework for choosing optimal parameter values in the development of hemoglobin-based blood substitutes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Substitutes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Diffusion
  • Hemodilution / methods
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Partial Pressure


  • Blood Substitutes
  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxygen