Fetal Hemoglobin

by Kevin Ahern, PhD

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    Now, hemoglobin is also an important consideration for the fetus and a mother. Mom gets oxygen to the fetus by breathing and it gets transported through the blood to the fetus. But the fetus has to really compete with mom for getting that oxygen. And unless the fetus has an advantage, it's going to lose that battle. Well, fortunately, the fetus has something on its side; it's known as fetal hemoglobin. And this is a form of hemoglobin that's a little bit different than mom's hemoglobin. We remember first of all that mom has adult hemoglobin, two units of alpha and two units of beta. The fetus does not have the beta to any significant extent And you can see on this graph, that plots the relative amounts of various forms of hemoglobin that are present in the various globins that are present in hemoglobin at various stages of a person's life. So the fetus prior to birth has very little of the beta unit and instead has a fairly high quantity shown in green of the gamma subunit. So, fetal hemoglobin is mostly alpha 2, gamma 2, all right? Now, that's significant because there is very little alpha 2 beta 2. These variations change in about birth and by a year and a half to two years of age, the fetus has adult hemoglobin. And that's okay because the fetus wants to be breathing then. The alpha 2 gamma 2 of the fetus inside of mom, however, has a higher affinity for oxygen than the alpha 2 beta 2 that mom is carrying. Now, instead of competing on an equal footing basis, the fetus is actually taking oxygen away from mom very readily. That's pretty necessary because the fetus is quite away from the oxygen supply. The fetal hemoglobin...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Fetal Hemoglobin by Kevin Ahern, PhD is from the course Amino Acid Metabolism.

    Author of lecture Fetal Hemoglobin

     Kevin Ahern, PhD

    Kevin Ahern, PhD

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