Dying red blood cell


Image Caption : Apoptotic Red Blood Cell : This image shows an apoptotic (dying) red blood cell. Because the red blood cells cannot repair themselves, (as they have no nucleus or other important organelles), their life span is comparatively short, some 120 to 130 days. At any given moment, red blood cells in your body are dying at a rate of about 2 million per second, and to replace them, new ones are formed in the bone marrow at about the same rate.

COMPOSITION OF THE BLOOD

Illustration of blood composition.

When a sample of blood is spun in a centrifuge, the cells and cell fragments are separated from the liquid intercellular matrix. Because the formed elements are heavier than the liquid matrix, they are packed in the bottom of the tube by the centrifugal force. The light yellow colored liquid on the top is the plasma, which accounts for about 55 percent of the blood volume and red blood cells is called the hematocrit,or packed cell volume (PCV). The white blood cells and platelets form a thin white layer, called the "buffy coat", between plasma and red blood cells.

Erythrocytes (red blood cells)

Erythrocytes, or red blood cells, are the most numerous of the formed elements. Erythrocytes are tiny biconcave disks, thin in the middle and thicker around the periphery. The shape provides a combination of flexibility for moving through tiny capillaries with a maximum surface area for the diffusion of gases. The primary function of erythrocytes is to transport oxygen and, to a lesser extent, carbon dioxide.

National Cancer Institute / NIH


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