The Blood.swf / Darah.swf

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The blood consists of a suspension of special cells in a liquid called plasma. In an adult man, the blood is about 1/12th of the body weight and this corresponds to 5-6 litres. Blood consists of 55 % plasma, and 45 % by cells called formed elements.

The blood performs a lot of important functions. By means of the hemoglobin contained in the erythrocytes, it carries oxygen to the tissues and collects the carbon dioxide (CO2). It also conveys nutritive substances (e.g. amino acids, sugars, mineral salts) and gathers the excreted material which will be eliminated through the renal filter. The blood also carries hormones, enzymes and vitamins. It performs the defense of the organism by mean of the phagocitic activity of the leukocytes, the bactericidal power of the serum and the immune response of which the lymphocytes are the protagonists.

ERYTHROCYTES (red cells)

The erythrocytes are the most numerous blood cells i.e. about 4-6 millions/mm3. They are also called red cells. In man and in all mammals, erythrocytes are devoid of a nucleus and have the shape of a biconcave lens. In the other vertebrates (e.g. fishes, amphibians, reptilians and birds), they have a nucleus. The red cells are rich in hemoglobin, a protein able to bind in a faint manner to oxygen. Hence, these cells are responsible for providing oxygen to tissues and partly for recovering carbon dioxide produced as waste. However, most CO2 is carried by plasma, in the form of soluble carbonates.

LEUKOCYTES (white cells)

Leukocytes, or white cells, are responsible for the defense of the organism. In the blood, they are much less numerous than red cells. The density of the leukocytes in the blood is 5000-7000 /mm3. Leukocytes divide in two categories: granulocytes and lymphoid cells or agranulocytes. The term granulocyte is due to the presence of granules in the cytoplasm of these cells. In the different types of granulocytes, the granules are different and help us to distinguish them. In fact, these granules have a different affinity towards neutral, acid or basic stains and give the cytoplasm different colors. So, granulocytes distinguish themselves in neutrophil, eosinophil (or acidophil) and basophil. The lymphoid cells, instead, distinguish themselves in lymphocytes and monocytes. As we will see later, even the shape of the nucleus helps us in the recognition of the leukocytes.

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