Why do we need oxygen? “Breathing takes place not only in the lungs. The brain also breathes”
Thinking, moving or working muscles require energy obtained in the process of breathing. And this process is more than just the “movement” of the chest, which should be kept in the right proportions. – By maintaining balance, we ensure that all oxygen is used properly, driving the entire biochemical machinery that converts the energy locked in the consumed substances – points out Prof. Agnieszka Chacińska, molecular biologist.
“Inhale”, “exhale” – this is how we most often imagine what we call breathing. However, every living organism – including humans – breathes at the level of a single cell. How? – From a biochemical perspective, respiration is a whole series of complex reactions. They are initiated in the cytosol – the water part of the cell. Later, these reactions take place in a cellular compartment called mitochondria, which can be described as the “power plants” of the cell – says Prof. Agnieszka Chacińska, molecular biologist, director of the International Institute of Molecular Mechanisms and Machines of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IMol). The researcher is also a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, Academia Europea and the German Academy of Naturalists Leopoldina.
Therefore, the life of the cell depends on obtaining the right amount of oxygen. In the case of the brain, which consumes 20 percent. oxygen supplied to the body, the right amount is of great importance. Therefore, the proper breathing of other organs and their individual elements largely depends on the condition of the lungs.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is classified as a “respiratory virus” – that is, one that infects primarily the respiratory system. It is already known that it can reach other organs, including the brain. The very fact that it can disturb the functioning of the respiratory system may be dangerous for the proper breathing of the entire body.
Tomasz-Marcin Wrona: Hardly anyone thinks about breathing on a daily basis. Does gas exchange in the brain differ from that in other organs?
Prof. Agnieszka Chacińska: Let me start by saying that we feel the inhalation and exhalation of air all the time. During this process, we supply oxygen to the body and excrete carbon dioxide. However, the biochemical processes that underlie the transformation of oxygen into carbon dioxide are very complicated.
Our whole body breathes, every cell of it. From a biochemical perspective, respiration occurs not only in the lungs, but in every cell. So the brain also breathes.
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