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Abstract

We used the multiple-indicator dilution technique to examine the kinetics of tracer oxygen distribution and uptake in the rat liver perfused in a nonrecirculating fashion with blood. 51Cr-labeled 18O2-saturated erythrocytes, labeled albumin, sucrose and water (the tracers for oxygen and vascular, interstitial and cellular references) were injected simultaneously into the portal vein. Timed anerobic samples were collected from the hepatic vein and analyzed by mass spectrometry for relative 18O2 enrichment and radioactivity. In a set of experiments performed at 32° C, oxygen uptake was substantially diminished; tracer oxygen profiles approached those expected for a completely recovered, flow-limited substance. At 37° C, much larger tracer oxygen sequestration occurred. Experiments were carried out at each temperature at higher and lower hematocrit, and oxygen consumption at each temperature was found to be independent of hematocrit. The tissue space of distribution for tracer oxygen relative to the total sinusoidal vascular content was influenced by the hematocrit: it was smaller at higher hematocrit and larger at lower hematocrit, as expected. The derived partition coefficient of oxygen for liver cells relative to plasma (expressed in terms of the liver and plasma water spaces) was, on average, 2.62 ml/ml; it was independent of the hematocrit. Analysis of the indicator dilution experiments indicates that the tracer oxygen is distributed into tissue in a flow-limited rather than a barrier-limited fashion, and that with this, an ongoing concomitant intracellular sequestration of tracer can be seen. (HEPATOLOGY 1992;16:763–775.)