Biology » The Circulatory System » Components of the Blood

Summarizing Components of the Blood

Summary

Specific components of the blood include red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and the plasma, which contains coagulation factors and serum. Blood is important for regulation of the body’s pH, temperature, osmotic pressure, the circulation of nutrients and removal of waste, the distribution of hormones from endocrine glands, and the elimination of excess heat; it also contains components for blood clotting. Red blood cells are specialized cells that contain hemoglobin and circulate through the body delivering oxygen to cells.

White blood cells are involved in the immune response to identify and target invading bacteria, viruses, and other foreign organisms; they also recycle waste components, such as old red blood cells. Platelets and blood clotting factors cause the change of the soluble protein fibrinogen to the insoluble protein fibrin at a wound site forming a plug. Plasma consists of 90 percent water along with various substances, such as coagulation factors and antibodies. The serum is the plasma component of the blood without the coagulation factors.

Glossary

plasma

liquid component of blood that is left after the cells are removed

platelet

(also, thrombocyte) small cellular fragment that collects at wounds, cross-reacts with clotting factors, and forms a plug to prevent blood loss

red blood cell

small (7–8 μm) biconcave cell without mitochondria (and in mammals without nuclei) that is packed with hemoglobin, giving the cell its red color; transports oxygen through the body

serum

plasma without the coagulation factors

white blood cell

large (30 μm) cell with nuclei of which there are many types with different roles including the protection of the body from viruses and bacteria, and cleaning up dead cells and other waste

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