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2,3-Bisphosphoglycerate (2,3-BPG), also known as 2,3-diphosphoglycerate, is a three-carbon isomer of the glycolytic intermediate 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate. 2,3-BPG is formed in red blood cells during glycolysis by the action of the enzyme bisphosphoglycerate mutase. It plays a crucial role in regulating the affinity of hemoglobin for oxygen, thus facilitating the release of oxygen to the tissues. The concentration of 2,3-BPG in the red blood cells can be influenced by various factors, including pH, temperature, and concentrations of certain hormones, which in turn can affect oxygen delivery to tissues.

Biosynthesis[edit | edit source]

2,3-BPG is synthesized in the red blood cells from 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate by the enzyme bisphosphoglycerate mutase. This reaction is reversible, although in red blood cells, the reaction favors the formation of 2,3-BPG. The presence of 2,3-BPG is unique to red blood cells and is a critical factor in the regulation of oxygen binding and release by hemoglobin.

Function[edit | edit source]

The primary function of 2,3-BPG is to regulate the oxygen-binding affinity of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin's affinity for oxygen is inversely related to the concentration of 2,3-BPG: as the concentration of 2,3-BPG increases, hemoglobin's affinity for oxygen decreases, and vice versa. This mechanism allows for enhanced release of oxygen in tissues that require it the most, such as actively metabolizing tissues or tissues under hypoxic conditions.

Clinical Significance[edit | edit source]

Alterations in the levels of 2,3-BPG can have significant clinical implications. For example, an increase in 2,3-BPG levels can be observed in conditions such as chronic hypoxia, anemia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), where there is a need to enhance oxygen delivery to tissues. Conversely, a decrease in 2,3-BPG levels can impair oxygen delivery and exacerbate symptoms in conditions where oxygen transport is already compromised.

Regulation[edit | edit source]

The concentration of 2,3-BPG in red blood cells is regulated by several factors. Hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, stimulates an increase in 2,3-BPG, enhancing oxygen release from hemoglobin. Additionally, certain hormones, such as thyroxine, norepinephrine, and growth hormone, can influence 2,3-BPG levels. The pH of the blood also affects 2,3-BPG concentration through the Bohr effect, where a decrease in pH (acidosis) leads to an increase in 2,3-BPG, further facilitating oxygen release.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

2,3-Bisphosphoglycerate plays a vital role in the physiological regulation of oxygen delivery to tissues. Its concentration in red blood cells is a critical determinant of hemoglobin's oxygen-binding affinity, making it an essential factor in the adaptation to varying oxygen demands and pathological conditions. Understanding the mechanisms regulating 2,3-BPG levels and their clinical implications can provide insights into the management of diseases associated with altered oxygen transport.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD