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[Gofriends] Mistake in GO structure?

Wacek Kusnierczyk waku at
Mon Jan 17 08:00:41 PST 2011

On 1/17/11 9:23 AM, Wacek Kusnierczyk wrote:
> On 1/17/11 7:12 AM, David Hill wrote:
>>> however, i must admit that the subsumption of respiratory system 
>>> process by respiratory gaseous exchange is rather suspicious.  for 
>>> example, inhaling air into lung seems to be a respiratory system 
>>> process, but calling it respiratory gaseous exchange just doesn't 
>>> sound right. 
>> It is at the level of the organism. We breath in to take oxygen onto 
>> our bodies and we breath out to rid out bodies of carbon dioxide.
> Breathing is inhaling and exhaling air (or whatever happens to be 
> around us) into the lungs.  In the lungs, oxygen diffuses into the 
> blood, and carbon dioxide diffuses from the blood.  The circulatory 
> system then takes the oxygen to other tissues, and brings a new 
> portion of carbon dioxide from the tissues, while the respiratory 
> system takes care of the waste and brings new oxygen for the next cycle.
> Breathing is a respiratory system process.  Now,
> (a) If the whole process of removing co2 from the blood and replacing 
> it with o2 is called 'respiratory gaseous exchange' (or 'respiration' 
> for short, as your broad synonym acknowledges), then breathing is a 
> *part* of it; saying that breathing *is* respiratory gaseous exchange 
> is plainly wrong.
> (b) On the other hand, if the term 'gaseous exchange' (or 'gas 
> exchange', as I find it in my textbooks) is used as it seems in 
> medical terminology to name the process by which oxygen and carbon 
> dioxide diffuse through alveolar cells, base membranes, and capillary 
> endothelial cells in the lungs, then breathing is *separate* from 
> respiratory gas exchange, and both *are* respiratory system processes 
> and are *parts* of respiration.
> Either way, GO has it wrong.

Consider these two examples:

(a) When you stop breathing (e.g., while diving), gaseous exchange 
continues, at least for some time.
(b) In conditions with abnormal ventilation-perfusion ratio ('wasted 
blood' or 'wasted air', e.g., in inefficient inflow of blood into the 
pulmonary circulation due to obstruction of a major artery or shunts, or 
emphysema) gas exchange decreases while breathing increases (precisely 
to accommodate for decreased gas exchange).

In these examples, equating breathing with gas exchange is obvious nonsense.


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