Specific absorption spectra of hemoglobin at different PO2 levels: potential noninvasive method to detect PO2 in tissues

J Biomed Opt. 2012 Dec;17(12):125002. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.17.12.125002.


Hemoglobin (Hb), as one of main components of blood, has a unique quaternary structure. Its release of oxygen is controlled by oxygen partial pressure (PO2). We investigate the specific spectroscopic changes in Hb under different PO2 levels to optimize clinical methods of measuring tissue PO2. The transmissivity of Hb under different PO2 levels is measured with a UV/Vis fiber optic spectrometer. Its plotted absorption spectral curve shows two high absorption peaks at 540 and 576 nm and an absorption valley at 560 nm when PO2 is higher than 100 mm Hg. The two high absorption peaks decrease gradually with a decrease in PO2, whereas the absorption valley at 560 nm increases. When PO2 decreases to approximately 0 mm Hg, the two high absorption peaks disappear completely, while the absorption valley has a hypochromic shift (8 to 10 nm) and forms a specific high absorption peak at approximately 550 nm. The same phenomena can be observed in visible reflectance spectra of finger-tip microcirculation. Specific changes in extinction coefficient and absorption spectra of Hb occur along with variations in PO2, which could be used to explain pathological changes caused by tissue hypoxia and for early detection of oxygen deficiency diseases in clinical monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oximetry / methods*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet / methods*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxygen