We often hear about red, white or platelet blood cells without having much idea of the task and importance that each one of them has in the blood. Of course, all these elements are part of our body helping the proper functioning of the circulatory system and, consequently, of our entire body. Blood cells are essential to ensure that all other cells and tissues are provided with nutrients and oxygen that allow them to survive. Next, in we go deeper into the subject and we explain what the function of red blood cells is.
What is blood?
Blood is a basic element to ensure the development and proper functioning of our body. Thanks to this liquid, all the necessary elements are transported so that our cells are oxygenated, nourished, eliminate all toxins and all our organs and tissues function properly.
Thus, we can define blood as the tissue, in a liquid state, that connects the whole body to each other and works to transport nutrients and materials essential for our survival (such as oxygen) to all parts of our body, while collects waste (such as carbon dioxide) from tissues and cells to be eliminated through the lungs. Blood also protects our body from infections and diseases that bacteria can cause.
Thanks to it, antibodies are produced that help us eliminate germs and viruses that can be installed in us. And, as if that weren’t enough, the blood also acts as a regulator, monitoring and maintaining our body temperature, managing water and salt levels, and balancing blood pressure.
In short, the three basic functions of blood are transport, protection, and regulation. For all this, blood is, without a doubt, one of the most important and vital tissues in our body.
Composition of blood
But blood is not just a red and viscous liquid – called plasma -, there are also multiple elements that make it up and give meaning to the purpose of blood within our body, each with its own function.
To understand the composition of blood we must distinguish between two different parts: plasma , which is the liquid composed of 92% water and other essential elements such as enzymes, hormones, antibodies, nutrients, salts, proteins, gases …, and the blood cells found in it. Specifically these are the blood cells that we will find in the plasma and that, therefore, are part of the blood and represent 45% of the blood volume:
- Red blood cells:also known as red blood cells or erythrocytes. Blood contains between 4 and 5 million red blood cells per mm3. Its main objective is to transport oxygen to the different tissues of the body.
- Platelets:there are between 200,000 and 400,000 per mm3. They are small fragments of blood cells that are responsible for forming blood clots that will help us heal wounds and prevent bleeding. They are produced by the bone marrow.
- White blood cells:also known as leukocytes. Blood has between 6,000 and 9,000 white blood cells per mm3. We can differentiate between several leukocytes and each one has a specific function within the defense of our body.
Functions of red blood cells
Red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes, red blood cells, or red blood cells, are a part of the basic blood cells that live in plasma. They are composed of globulin and hemoglobin, that is, a molecular structure, whose main functions are:
- Transport oxygen to the different tissues of the body
- Collect carbon dioxide in order to eliminate toxic waste
These types of cells also give blood red color since they do not have a nucleus and their cytoplasm is made up of hemoglobin, which gives the blood cell and blood its color. Like white blood cells, which work in the defense of our body, red blood cells also originate in the bone marrow. Visually, we could determine that they are red cells similar to biconcave (oval) discs without a nucleus and that they measure about 0.007 mm in diameter.
As we have previously pointed out, in our blood between 4 and 5 million red blood cells are collected per cubic millimeter, which live only 120 days and are eliminated through the release of bilirubin. The hematopoietic tissue of the bone marrow is responsible for producing millions of red blood cells day after day so that our blood always has authentic transporters that can carry out the work of feeding and oxygenate all the cells of our body, to keep us healthy.
Diseases that affect red blood cells
Among blood diseases, there are some that directly involve red blood cells. One of them is anemia, as it is characterized by the lack of oxygen in our cells that causes a decrease in red blood cells in the blood or a low concentration of hemoglobin in these blood cells.
Among the best known anemia’s, iron deficiency anemia stands out, or anemia due to iron deficiency. This disease occurs when the consumption of iron decreases or the body absorbs it in less quantity, which leads to a reduction in the production of hemoglobin, since it is basically made of iron. But there are other types of anemia and all of them are related to the deficiency of red blood cells (pernicious anemia, hemolytic anemia …).
Other diseases that involve red blood cells are polycythemias, caused by an increase in red blood cells, thalassemia, a genetic disorder produced by a change in the amount of hemoglobin production, or the malaria parasite, which passes a large part of its life cycle in red cells and feeds on hemoglobin.