components of blood


If you were to filter out all the cells in blood, a golden-yellow liquid would be left behind. Plasma is this fluid part of the blood. Plasma is about 90% water and about 10% dissolved proteins, glucose, ions, hormones, and gases. Blood is made up mostly of plasma.

components of blood

Did you know that blood is a tissue? Blood is a fluid connective tissue that is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. The cells that make up blood are pictured below ( Figure 1.1). The different parts of blood have different roles. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of human blood cells. Red blood cells are the flat, bowl-shaped cells, the tiny disc-shaped pieces are platelets, and white blood cells are the round cells shown in the center.


white blood cells

White blood cells (WBCs) are usually larger than red blood cells. They do not have hemoglobin and do not carry oxygen. White blood cells make up less than one percent of the bloods volume. Most WBCs are made in the bone marrow, and some mature in the lymphatic system. There are different WBCs with different jobs. WBCs defend the body against infection by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. WBCs do have a nucleus and other organelles. Neutrophils are WBCs that can squeeze through capillary walls and swallow particles such as bacteria and parasites. Macrophages are large WBCs that can also swallow and destroy old and dying cells, bacteria, or viruses. Below, a macrophage is attacking and swallowing two particles, possibly disease-causing pathogens ( Figure Lymphocytes are WBCs that fight infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Some lymphocytes attack and kill cancer cells. Lymphocytes called B-cells make antibodies. A type of white blood cell, called a macrophage, is attacking a cancer cell.


red blood cells

Red blood cells (RBCs) are flattened, disk-shaped cells that carry oxygen. They are the most common blood cell in the blood. There are about 4 to 6 million RBCs per cubic millimeter of blood. Each RBC has about 200 million molecules of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen. Hemoglobin also gives the red blood cells their red color. Red blood cells ( Figure 1.2) are made in the red marrow of long bones, rib bones, the skull, and vertebrae. Each red blood cell lives for only 120 days (about four months). After this time, they are destroyed in the liver and spleen. Mature red blood cells do not have a nucleus or other organelles. Lacking these components allows the cells to have more hemoglobin and carry more oxygen. The flattened shape of red blood cells helps them carry more oxygen than if they were rounded.



Platelets ( Figure 1.4) are very small, but they are very important in blood clotting. Platelets are not cells. They are sticky little pieces of larger cells. Platelets bud off large cells that stay in the bone marrow. When a blood vessel gets cut, platelets stick to the injured areas. They release chemicals called clotting factors, which cause proteins to form over the wound. This web of proteins catches red blood cells and forms a clot. This clot stops more blood from leaving the body through the cut blood vessel. The clot also stops bacteria from entering the body. Platelets survive in the blood for ten days before they are removed by the liver and spleen.

instructional diagrams

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blood is a connective tissue.

-->  a. true

b. false

each red blood cell has about 200 hemoglobin proteins.

a. true

-->  b. false

which best describes plasma?

a) plasma is about 90% water and about 10% red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

-->  b) plasma is about 90% water and about 10% other materials.

c) plasma is about 50% water and about 50% other materials.

d) plasma is about 50% water and about 50% red blood cells.

which of the following are white blood cells that fight pathogens?

a) neutrophils

b) macrophages

c) lymphocytes

-->  d) all of the above

which statement is associated with red blood cells?

a) a red blood cell lives for about six months.

b) mitochondria provide red blood cells with energy so they can move in the blood.

-->  c) red blood cells are made in the red marrow of long bones, rib bones, the

d) all of the above are true of red blood cells.

what is the role of hemoglobin?

-->  a) to carry oxygen in red blood cells.

b) to carry oxygen in white blood cells.

c) to carry oxygen in plasma.

d) hemoglobin has nothing to do with carrying oxygen.

which is the most common blood cell in the blood?

a) white blood cells

-->  b) red blood cells

c) blue blood cells

d) green blood cells

diagram questions

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