Fluid & Electrolyte Q 58 - Gyan Darpan : Learning Portal
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Tuesday 29 March 2022

Fluid & Electrolyte Q 58

The lungs participate in acid-base balance by:
    A. Reabsorbing bicarbonate.
    B. Splitting carbonic acid in two.
    C. Using CO2 to regulate hydrogen ions.
    D. Sending hydrogen ions to the renal tubules.

Correct Answer: C. Using CO2 to regulate hydrogen ions

The lungs use carbon dioxide to regulate hydrogen ion concentration. The carbon dioxide formed during cellular respiration combines with water to create carbonic acid. Carbonic acid then dissociates into bicarbonate and a hydrogen ion. This reaction is one of the many buffer systems in the human body; it resists dramatic changes in pH to allow a person to remain within the narrow physiological pH range.

Option A: The renal system affects pH by reabsorbing bicarbonate and excreting fixed acids. Whether due to pathology or necessary compensation, the kidney excretes or reabsorbs these substances which affect pH. The nephron is the functional unit of the kidney. Blood vessels called glomeruli transport substances found in the blood to the renal tubules so that some can be filtered out while others are reabsorbed into the blood and recycled.
Option B: This reaction can and does occur without an enzyme; however, carbonic anhydrase is an enzyme that assists with this process. It catalyzes the first reaction above to form carbonic acid which can then freely dissociate into bicarbonate and a hydrogen ion. Carbonic anhydrase is located in red blood cells, renal tubules, gastric mucosa, and pancreatic cells.
Option D: If bicarbonate is reabsorbed and/or acid is secreted into the urine, the pH becomes more alkaline (increases). When bicarbonate is not reabsorbed or acid is not excreted into the urine, pH becomes more acidic (decreases). The metabolic compensation from the renal system takes longer to occur: days rather than minutes or hours.

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