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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How Blood Helps for the Functions of the Human Body

If you have a cut, a wound or a bruise on your body, blood flows out of the wound. Blood flows within the body in blood vessels. Although blood appears to be a homogenous fluid as you take it out of the body it gets separated into two if you leave it in a test tube. The dark red gelatinous part and the yellow colored fluid are the two parts. A normal person has about 5.5 liters of blood in his body.

Components of Blood

You can see the components of it by preparing a slide of blood and looking through a microscope. You will see a large amount of cells floating in a fluid. Most of them are red in color. You may see other cells of different sizes and a very small type of bodies. Cover the smear of blood with a cover slip and add a small drop of dilute acetic acid. If you look at the slide now, you will find that the red cells are not seen, but some other cells are seen. These cells are white in color. Let us now discuss these various components in detail.

Red Blood Cells - Erythrocytes

The red cells seen in blood are called erythrocytes or red blood corpuscles. The red color of blood is due to these cells. These cells have bi-concave shape and move singly or in a group within the blood vessels. As a result the exchange of gases through their surfaces is more efficient. Red cells are large and they cannot pass through capillary tubes easily. As a result there is more time for the exchange of gases.

The red color of erythrocytes comes from hemoglobin. This is made from a pigment named haematin which has iron and a protein named globin. The life time of an erythrocyte is about 3 months. These are broken down in the liver and the spleen. The proteins and the iron in hemoglobin is absorbed then. Erythrocytes are formed in the bone marrow.

White Blood Cells - Leukocytes

These are larger than erythrocytes but less in number. The number of leukocytes is just about one per 600 erythrocytes. The white blood cells are known as leukocytes have a nucleus and are colorless. There are about 4000 - 11000 white blood cells in 1ml of human blood. The white blood cells are divided into two categories depending on the availability of granules in the cytoplasm. Lymphocytes are round in shape and the nucleus is so large that it almost fills up the entire cell. These are also produced in the bone marrow.


In addition to the above cells, there is another type of cells. These cells are very small and have no nuclei. They have granules and are known as platelets. Platelets too are produced within the bone marrow. All blood cells are inside a yellow fluid. This fluid is known as blood plasma. The blood plasma is about 55% of the blood. 92% of the plasma is water. A lot of substances necessary for the body are in the plasma.

Functions of Erythrocytes

Oxygen combines with the hemoglobin in the red cells and forms oxy-hemoglobin. Blood  turns bright red as a result. When blood goes to the cells through the blood vessels, the oxy-hemoglobin breaks up and releases oxygen. This oxygen diffuses into the cell.

Functions of Leukocytes

Some leukocytes show amoeboid movements and engulf bacteria and virus that enter the body. This is know as Phagocytosis. Some leukocytes produce antibodies against disease causing bacteria.

Functions of Platelets

Blood flows out of a wound if you injure yourself. Continuous flow of blood is prevented by blood clotting on the wound. A number of substances take part in this process. This action is made quicker by platelets.

Functions of Blood Plasma

The fluid nature of blood is due to the plasma. It also transport all substances throughout the body. Blood plasma transports blood cells, hormones, nutrients and the excretory substances throughout the body. Another important function of blood is the regulation of body temperature.

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