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Blood is considered the Essence of life because the uncontrolled loss of it can result in death. Blood helps to maintain homeostasis in several ways: (1) transport gases, nutrients, and waste products, (2) transport of processed molecules, (3) transport of regulatory molecules, (4) regulation of pH and osmosis, (5) maintenance of body temperature, (6) protection against foreign substances, and (7) clot formation.

Blood is a type of connective tissue that consists of cells and cell fragments surrounded by a liquid matrix. Whole blood has two major components: (1) blood plasma, a watery liquid matrix that contains dissolved substances and (2) formed elements, which are cells and cell fragments. Blood is about 45% formed elements and 55% plasma. Blood plasma consists about 91% water, 7% proteins, and 2% other substances such as ions, nutrients, gases and waste products. Plasma proteins include albumin, globulins and fibrinogen. About 95% of the volume of the formed elements consists of red blood cells (RBCs), or erythrocytes. The remaining 5% of the volume of the formed elements consist of white blood cells (WBCs), or leukocytes, and cell fragments called platelets or thrombocytes.

Table 3.1
Plasma components
Water Proteins Ions Nutrients Gases Waste products Regulatory substances

Components of Plasma
Functions and Examples
Acts as a solvent and suspending medium for blood components Maintain osmotic pressure (albumin), destroy foreign substances (antibodies and complement), transport molecules (albumin, globulins), and form clots (fibrinogen). Involved in osmotic pressure (sodium and chloride ions), membrane potentials (sodium and potassium ions), and acid-base balance (hydrogen, hydroxide, and bicarbonate ions). Source of energy and building blocks of more complex molecules (glucose, amino acid, triacylglycerides). Involved in aerobic respiration (oxygen and carbon dioxide) Breakdown products of protein metabolism (urea and ammonia salts), erythrocytes (bilirubin), and anaerobic respiration (lactic acid). Catalyze chemical reactions (enzymes) and stimulate or inhibit many body functions (hormones).

The process of blood cell production is called hematopoiesis. All the formed elements of blood are derived from a single population of cells called stem cells or hematocytoblasts. These stem cells differentiate to give rise to different cell lines, each of which ends with formations of a particular type of forms elements. The development of each cell line is regulated by a specific growth factor.

Table 3.2
Cell Type
Red Blood Cell White Blood Cells Granulocyte Neutrophil Basophil Eosinophil Agranulocytes Lymphocytes Monocyte Platelet

Formed Elements of the Blood

Transport oxygen and carbon dioxide Five types: Phagocytizes microorganisms and other substances Releases histamine, which promotes inflammation, and heparin, which prevents clot formation Releases chemicals that reduce inflammation; attacks certain worm parasites Produces antibodies and other chemicals responsible for destroying microorganisms; contributes to allergic reactions, graft rejection, tumor control, and regulation of the immune system Phagocytic cells in the blood; leaves the blood and becomes a macrophage, which phagocytises bacteria, dead cells, cell fragments, and other debris within tissues. Forms platelet plugs; releases chemicals necessary for blood clotting