Human Body Organs

Red Blood Cells

The medium through which our body gets enough supply of oxygen are the red blood cells (RBCs). Elucidated below is an overview of red blood cells and their importance.
More than 4000 kinds of components are present in our highly specified blood tissue. White blood cells, red cells, plasma and the platelets are the four most important components amongst the rest. About 7-8% of the weight in the human body is made up by blood. Blood delivers oxygen to the various organs in our body, fights diseases and if the blood vessel is harmed, the RBCs help in reducing the excessive bleeding. This important component is a reason for various important functions in our body like carrying oxygen and nutrients for the cells and freeing the body from ammonia, carbon dioxide and other waste products.

What Are RBCs
» Also known as erythrocytes, these cells are large microscopical cells without nuclei. Out of the total blood volume, 40-50% are red cells.
» It is the primary support of the circulatory system, i.e., the cardiovascular system. The cells take the color "red" from a chemical protein called hemoglobin.
» The erythrocytes contain hemoglobin, which helps in providing oxygen to the heart.
» The oxygen corpuscles in the heart link themselves to the hemoglobin and thus, are transported to the various organs of the body.
» When the hemoglobin has given away all the oxygen particles, the empty hemoglobin particle is taken over by carbon dioxide on its way back to the heart.

Size and Cell Count
» Twenty to thirty trillion erythrocytes (RBCs) circulate in the bloodstream of an average adult.
» Every corpuscle is uniquely planned to channelize and exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.
» RBCs are disc-shaped and measure 6-8 micrometers (µm) in diameter. Approximately 200 billion RBCs are produced every day and their lifespan is around 120 to 125 days.
» The count of these cells vary with the gender of the individual. The average count is 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per microliter in women and in case of men, it is about 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter.
» Compared to other corpuscles in the body red blood cells are the smallest. Every cell consists of approximately 270 million hemoglobin molecules and each carry four groups of heme.

Erythropoiesis - Formation of RBCs
(Erythro - RBC and poiesis - to make)
» It is a process through which red blood cells are formed in the human body. In this process, the cells are produced in the bone marrow of the large bones.
» The production rate per second is approximately two million.
» The cells which are released by the bone marrow in the blood are known as reticulocytes. These reticulocytes have around one percent of circulating blood cells.
» As the cells start to mature, their plasma membrane keeps on undergoing several changes so that the phagocytes can identify the worn-out cells, which would result into phagocytosis.
» The hemoglobin particles are further broken down into iron and biliverdin. The latter changes into bilirubin, which along with the iron particle is released into the plasma. This again is circulated with the help of a carrier protein, called transferrin.

Indicators of Good Health
» A lot of disorders can be rooted in the malfunctioning of red blood cells. Anemia is one of the most common blood-related diseases, which is caused by the deficiency of iron, which in turn results in the insufficiency of hemoglobin.
» Thalassemia is also a disease against which the whole world is trying to fight. It is a genetic disease, which is caused due to the production of abnormal ratio of hemoglobin subunits.
» Hemolysis is another disease in which the red blood cells degenerate more than they should.

Red blood cells are an important part of the body's mechanism and thus, proper care should be taken so as to increase their count by the intake of iron-rich food products.