Blood cells (also known as erythrocytes or red blood cells) are the blood cells responsible for the red color of the blood and that play an important role in the cellular oxygenation of the body tissues.
Characteristics of Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells are the cells with the greatest presence in the blood, composed mainly of globulin and hemoglobin, the protein responsible for the reddish color of the blood.
RBCs are produced in the bone marrow, stimulated by the glycoprotein hormone called erythropoietin. In addition, they are biconcave disk format and have no nuclei (anucleate) or DNA when mature.
RBCs have a life span of about 120 days. After this period, they go through the process of hemolysis, where they are destroyed in the spleen and liver and its components are used to make new cells.
The diameter of the red blood cells is approximately seven micrometers, and may be larger in blood rich in carbon dioxide (venous blood) when compared to blood rich in oxygen (arterial blood).
However, these cells may undergo the phenomenon of macrocytosis or microcytosis, which is the increase or decrease in red cell size, respectively.
In summary, these are the main characteristics of red blood cells:
- They are anucleate (they have no nucleus);
- Produced in the bone marrow;
- Contains hemoglobin (responsible for red blood color);
- They carry oxygen to every cell in the body;
- Red blood cell life is 120 days;
- They are the cells with greater presence in the blood.
Function of Red Blood Cells or Erythrocytes
The main function of red blood cells is related to the transport of oxygen (O2) to all cells of the body. But they also transport carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen ions.
In addition, the red blood cells also guarantee the reddish color of the blood. This function, in turn, is performed by hemoglobin, which has a portion of iron in its composition that binds to oxygen, ensuring transportation.
The blood has a number of erythrocytes that varies according to the person, their habits and their emotional state. Usually, there are about 5 million red blood cells per cubic millimeter in the blood of a healthy adult man. In women, this value is approximately 4.5 million.
This red cell count is performed through the hemogram, a laboratory examination where the collection of blood is withdrawn for analysis.
Low Blood Cells and High blood Cells
The amount of red blood cells can be a sign of illness or alarming conditions for a person’s health.
When the amount of red cells in the blood is low, then anemia is diagnosed, a disease caused by the low amount of hemoglobin and iron in the blood or due to the great destruction of the blood cells.
It is also important to note that some pictures of anemia may be caused by genetics, such as sickle cell anemia, a disease characterized by hereditary deformation in the size of red blood cells. This change makes it less flexible and more fragile than the normal red blood cell, which triggers the rapid destruction of this blood cell.
High Blood Cells
The number of red blood cells usually increases when the individual is in very high places (above 2,500 meters above sea level). The explanation is in the fact that the organism produces more erythrocytes to oxygenate the other cells of the body, since at great altitudes the atmospheric air is more scarce.
High erythrocytes occur when they reach a hemoglobin value higher than 17.2 g / dL and 15.1 g / dL for adult men and women, respectively.
If the person is not at high altitudes, the increase of red blood cells may represent some kind of physiological abnormality.
Among the major diseases and other causes that are related to high hemoglobin are:
- Pulmonary fibrosis;
- Pulmonary emphysema;
- Extreme physical exertion.
Normal Levels of Red Blood Cells and Hemoglobin in the Blood (Hemogram)
|Parameters||Newborn||Baby up to 1 year||Children||Women||Pregnant||Men’s|
|Blood cells (1012 / L)||4 to 5.6||4 to 4.7||4.5 to 4.7||3.9 to 5.03||3.9 to 5.6||4.32 to 5.52|
|Hemoglobin (g / dL)||13.5 to 19.6||11 to 13||11.5 to 14.8||12 to 16||11.5 to 16||13.5 to 18|
Normocytic Hemocytes and Normochromic Hemocytes
The term normocytic is used to name red blood cells with normal cell size. The normochromic word represents the normality of the coloration of the blood cell.
When the result of a blood test shows normocytic or normochromic anemia, it means that there are no abnormalities in the structure and concentration of red blood cells. Thus, the probable reason for the person to have anemia is because they have lost many amounts of blood suddenly.
Blood Cells in the Urine, What Does It Mean?
The presence of red blood cells in the urine is not normal. If this result is confirmed, it may represent the presence of some diseases, such as:
- Sickle cell anemia;
- Renal tumor;
- Severe burns.