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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify the most powerful buffer system in the body
  • Explain the way in which the respiratory system affects blood pH

Proper physiological functioning depends on a very tight balance between the concentrations of acids and bases in the blood. Acid-balance balance is measured using the pH scale, as shown in [link] . A variety of buffering systems permits blood and other bodily fluids to maintain a narrow pH range, even in the face of perturbations. A buffer is a chemical system that prevents a radical change in fluid pH by dampening the change in hydrogen ion concentrations in the case of excess acid or base. Most commonly, the substance that absorbs the ions is either a weak acid, which takes up hydroxyl ions, or a weak base, which takes up hydrogen ions.

The ph scale

This table gives examples of solutions from PH of zero to 14. Examples of solutions with a PH of zero include battery acid and strong hydrofluoric acid. An example of a solution with a pH of one is the hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach lining. Examples of solutions with a PH of two include lemon juice and vinegar. Examples of solutions with a PH of three include grapefruit juice, orange juice and soda. Examples of solutions with a PH of four include tomato juice and acid rain. Examples of solutions with a PH of five include soft drinking water and black coffee. Examples of solutions with a PH of  six include urine and saliva. An example of a solution with a PH of seven is pure water. An example of a solution with a PH of eight is sea water. An example of a solution with a PH of nine is baking soda. Examples of solutions with a PH of ten  include saline lake water and milk of magnesia. An example of a solution with a PH of eleven is an ammonia solution. An example of a solution with a PH of twelve is soapy water. Examples of solutions with a PH of  thirteen include bleach and oven cleaner. An example of a solution with a PH of fourteen is liquid drain cleaner.
This chart shows where many common substances fall on the pH scale.

Buffer systems in the body

The buffer systems in the human body are extremely efficient, and different systems work at different rates. It takes only seconds for the chemical buffers in the blood to make adjustments to pH. The respiratory tract can adjust the blood pH upward in minutes by exhaling CO 2 from the body. The renal system can also adjust blood pH through the excretion of hydrogen ions (H + ) and the conservation of bicarbonate, but this process takes hours to days to have an effect.

The buffer systems functioning in blood plasma include plasma proteins, phosphate, and bicarbonate and carbonic acid buffers. The kidneys help control acid-base balance by excreting hydrogen ions and generating bicarbonate that helps maintain blood plasma pH within a normal range. Protein buffer systems work predominantly inside cells.

Protein buffers in blood plasma and cells

Nearly all proteins can function as buffers. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which contain positively charged amino groups and negatively charged carboxyl groups. The charged regions of these molecules can bind hydrogen and hydroxyl ions, and thus function as buffers. Buffering by proteins accounts for two-thirds of the buffering power of the blood and most of the buffering within cells.

Hemoglobin as a buffer

Hemoglobin is the principal protein inside of red blood cells and accounts for one-third of the mass of the cell. During the conversion of CO 2 into bicarbonate, hydrogen ions liberated in the reaction are buffered by hemoglobin, which is reduced by the dissociation of oxygen. This buffering helps maintain normal pH. The process is reversed in the pulmonary capillaries to re-form CO 2 , which then can diffuse into the air sacs to be exhaled into the atmosphere. This process is discussed in detail in the chapter on the respiratory system.

Phosphate buffer

Phosphates are found in the blood in two forms: sodium dihydrogen phosphate ( Na 2 H 2 PO 4 ), which is a weak acid, and sodium monohydrogen phosphate ( Na 2 HPO 4 2- ), which is a weak base. When Na 2 HPO 4 2- comes into contact with a strong acid, such as HCl, the base picks up a second hydrogen ion to form the weak acid Na 2 H 2 PO 4 and sodium chloride, NaCl. When Na 2 HPO 4 2 (the weak acid) comes into contact with a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH), the weak acid reverts back to the weak base and produces water. Acids and bases are still present, but they hold onto the ions.

Questions & Answers

explain respiratory centers
Tharshana Reply
which enzyme help in excretion of bile
Sakshi Reply
how conversion of Beta-carotiene into vitamin-A takes place
Sakshi
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Sakshi
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Saroj Reply
The study of large structure of the body
Mablean
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Dakshit Reply
a bag of skin near the penis which contains the testicles
Mablean
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Sardar
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Sardar
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Kryme
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Uriah Reply
I want to know the fertilization process in human
Nana Reply
Which plane divides the body into right and left parts
Kaeze
sagittal plane
Irvin
Thank you
Kaeze
Homestatic regulations usually involves a (n) _ that detects a particular stimulus, and a(n) _that respond to the stimulus by communicating with a (n) _whose activity has an effect on the same stimulus.
Kaeze
A cell is producing proteins to be transported out of that cell. They will be processed on ribosomes that are
Kaeze
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Azoyenime Reply
Haemophilia
Aliyu
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Ganesh Reply
Diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus would most likely be indicated by ________.
Ganesh
oral cavity how miean
Ganesh Reply
oral cavity how mean what
Suresh
seems to me every one is here a doctor and worse part is that even they donot know what to ask.
Muhammad
they know what to ask the problem is how to ask it.too much broken english.
George
dear George ongeche I think if they ask these kind questions and telling themselves as HCPs or medical student's .these are the basic ones go ask something more interesting .
Muhammad
what is blood red
Ahmad Reply
what is human anatomy?
Arpita Reply
tell me what is human anatomy?
Arpita
what is Openstax?
Arpita
arpita jana I think it's not the forum to ask such basic question...
Muhammad
study of structure of an object in this case human body.
Suresh
what are deferent between trasemicacid and vitamin k
Ubah Reply
This medication is used to treat heavy bleeding during your menstrual period. Tranexamic acid works by slowing the breakdown of blood clots, which helps to prevent prolonged bleeding. It belongs to a class of drugs known as antifibrinolytics
Muhammad
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John
In the body, vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting. So it is used to reverse the effects of “blood thinning” medications when too much is given; to prevent clotting problems in newborns who don’t have enough vitamin K; and to treat bleeding caused by medications including salicylates, sulfo
Muhammad
Vitamin K plays a key role in helping the blood clot, preventing excessive bleeding. Unlike many other vitamins, vitamin K is not typically used as a dietary supplement. Vitamin K is actually a group of compounds. The most important of these compounds appears to be vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitami
Muhammad
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Muhammad
26 vertebrea bone
Bhumi
wathe is blood function
dhena Reply
Blood, fluid that transports oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carries away carbon dioxide and other waste products. ... It is a tissue because it is a collection of similar specialized cells that serve particular functions. These cells are suspended in a liquid matrix (plasma), which makes the 
Ashiish
how tissue carries waste matrial
Nadeem
how many bone in human body?
Islam Reply
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Islam
206
Nadeem
heart layers
Suresh
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pandit
What is buffer?
Peer Reply
a buffer is a solution that resists a chemical change.
George
Yup it also balances the solutions
Peer

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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