The oxygen affinity of sickle hemoglobin

Amgad Abdu, José Gómez-Márquez, Thomas K. Aldrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The right-shifted oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve of sickle cell disease (SCD) has been thought to result in abnormally low arterial oxygen saturation (SO2), even when oxygen partial pressure (PO2) is normal. However, without polymer formation (minimal under normoxic conditions), HbS oxygen affinity is normal. We hypothesized that in SCD, in vivoSO2 is normal when PO2 is normal. We retrospectively examined 50 blood gas and COoximetry samples from SCD patients and from controls matched for pH, PO2, and carboxyhemoglobin. Control data fell close to the Severinghaus curve, as did non-hypoxemic (SO2 > 92.5 %) SCD data. In contrast, hypoxemic (SO2 < 92.5 %) SCD data fell well below the standard curve. Thus, although SCD patients' oxygen affinity is low under hypoxic conditions, it is normal at normal arterial SO2. Therefore, a finding of abnormally low saturation demonstrates that PO2 is abnormally low. Given our previous finding that pulse oximetry faithfully reflects saturation in SCD, low pulse oximeter readings in SCD constitute reliable evidence of impaired gas exchange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-94
Number of pages3
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2008


  • Anemia
  • Blood
  • Blood gases
  • Hemoglobin
  • Pulse oximetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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