What are red blood cells?

Tamara Kovalenko
Tamara Kovalenko
March 11, 2013
What are red blood cells?

Human blood consists of liquid plasma, as well as formed elements: red blood cells, leukocytes and platelets. Blood plasma is 55-60%, and the remaining 40-55% is occupied by shaped elements. Every person donated blood once and has at least a small idea of ​​what red blood cells are. Red blood cells that have the shape of biconcave discs are called red blood cells. The formation of red blood cells occurs in an adult in the bone marrow of the spine, the skull. In children, in addition, red blood cells are also formed in the bones of the legs and arms.
After 3-4 months, erythrocytes are destroyed in the liver and spleen. The destruction of red blood cells can occur in other tissues of the human body - bruises after injuries. An adult has about 25 million red blood cells in the body. About 160 thousand red blood cells are updated per day. After blood loss, the rate of formation of red blood cells may increase several times. Erythrocytes, for normal development, requires the receipt of vitamin B-12, iron and folic acid.

RBC functions

  • carry oxygen to body tissue from the lungs.Carbon dioxide transportation is what red blood cells do, providing a respiratory function.
  • maintaining an active blood reaction,
  • maintaining the ions of the blood,
  • red blood cells are involved in water and salt metabolism.

Red blood cells adsorb toxins, the breakdown products of proteins, proteins, carbohydrates. Red blood cells are elastic, so they freely pass through narrow capillaries. The plasticity of red blood cells decreases with aging. Plasticity also decreases with changes in the shape of the erythrocyte, that is, with congenital abnormalities (spherocytes, sickle-shaped erythrocytes).


Erythrocytosis is one of the diseases that occurs with an increase in the number of red blood cells in the human body. Causes of erythrocytosis:

  • dehydration during intestinal infection, fever,
  • hung erythropoietin production in renal diseases, as well as in some tumors,
  • chronic hypoxia in diseases of the lungs, heart, with long-term smoking, when living in highland areas,
  • Erythremia
  • hereditary erythrocytosis,
  • overly administered erythropoietin from drugs.

With a decrease in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin, anemia occurs. And the cause of anemia can be:

  • lack of iron, vitamins, folic acid in food,
  • chronic or acute bleeding,
  • violation of the absorption of iron, vitamins in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract,
  • chronic infections
  • bone marrow damage
  • bone marrow metastases of malignant tumors,
  • lack of erythropoietin with kidney damage.

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