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ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF THE BLOOD Bone marrow is the soft, flexible, vascular tissue found in the hollow

interior cavities and cancellous bone spaces in the center of many bones and which is the source of erythrocytes (red blood cells) and leukocytes (white blood cells). There are two main types of bone marrow. Red bone marrow is the center of production of all blood cells except one type of lymphocyte, which matures in the thymus. Yellow bone marrow stores fats. As the source of blood cells, the bone marrow is critical to the health of people. The disruption of the intricate harmony, such as the production of too many, too few, or abnormal blood cells, results in diseases, such as leukemia, that can be life-threatening.

Fig. 1a

Fig. 2b

Fig. 1a Illustration of a section through long bone, with spongy bone in its center. Fig. 2b Long Bone

Marrow types

Fig. 2c Section through the femur head, showing the cortex, the red bone marrow and a spot of yellow bone marrow. The white bar represents 1 centimeter.

There are two types of bone marrow: red marrow (consisting mainly of myeloid tissue) and yellow marrow (consisting mainly of fat cells). Red blood cells, platelets, and most white blood cells arise in red marrow; some white blood cells develop in yellow marrow. Both types of bone marrow contain numerous blood vessels and capillaries. At birth, all bone marrow in children is red. With age, more and more of it is converted to the yellow type. Red marrow is found mainly in the flat bones, such as the hip bone, breast bone, skull, ribs, vertebrae and shoulder blades, and in the cancellous ("spongy") material at the proximal ends of the long bones femur and humerus. Yellow marrow is found in the hollow interior of the middle portion of long bones. In cases of severe blood loss, the body can convert yellow marrow back to red marrow in order to increase blood cell production. Stroma The stroma of the bone marrow is all tissue that is not directly involved in the primary function of hematopoiesis. The yellow bone marrow belongs here, and makes the majority of the bone marrow stroma, in addition to stromal cells located in the red bone marrow.

Still, the stroma is indirectly involved in hematopoiesis, since it provides the hematopoietic microenvironment that facilitates hematopoiesis by the parenchymal cells. For instance, they generate colony stimulating factors, affecting hematopoiesis. Macrophages contribute especially to red blood cell production. They deliver iron for hemoglobin-production. The blood vessels constitute a barrier, inhibiting immature blood cells from leaving the bone marrow. Only mature blood cells contain the membrane proteins required to attach to and pass the blood vessel endothelium. Hematopoietic stem cells may also cross the bone marrow barrier and may thus be harvested from blood.

Blood and its Components Medical men categorize blood as connective tissue. This precious liquid contains erythrocytes, leukocytes, and platelets which are also known as thrombocytes. The blood cells mentioned above are responsible for transport, immunity, and clotting functions. Our blood makes up about 8% of an average adults body weight that is about 5 liters. Arterial blood departs from the heart carrying oxygen with the help of erythrocytes, that is why it is bright red. Venous blood on its way back to the heart has less oxygen and is darker in color. Blood is 4 or 5 thicker than water. Blood temperatures within the body are about 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celsius. Blood is segregated into two basic divisions - the cellular components and the plasma. About 45% of the total blood volume of the human body is made up the cellular elements.

The major elements of blood are the red blood cells, the white blood cells and the platelets, i.e the erythrocytes, the leukocytes, and the thrombocytes. The red blood cells outnumber other cells. A cubic millimeter of blood contains 4.3-5.8 million erythrocytes. To compare the figures, a cubic milliliter of blood contains 5,000 - 10,000 white blood cells and 250,000 - 450,000 platelets only.

Fig. 1a

Erythrocytes are special biconcave disks. This shape is designed for the diffusion of gas. Erythrocytes live for approximately 120 days, that is why our body keeps producing young red blood cells. Leukocytes are white blood cells that help fight off infection and illness. White blood cells are larger than red cells and can move independently in an amebic fashion. When the body creates additional white blood cells, it runs a fever. White cells are completely transparent and can be watched in the microscope by staining only. Platelets are the smallest blood cells. Some scientists consider them to be forming elements instead of cells. There are about 250,000 - 450,000 platelets in one cubic millimeter of blood. The platelets are the only blood cells lacking nuclei and they are able to move on their own just like leukocytes do. As a rule platelets survive in the blood for 5 - 9 days. It is important to notice that platelets are vital to the blood clotting

process. This phenomenon helps human organism prevent excessive blood loss in case of injury. When the string of platelets joins together a certain amount of serotonin is released into the blood stream to restrict the flow of blood through the blood vessels. Hemopoiesis is a vitally important process of creating of new blood cells. Bone marrow located in bones of the skull, the humerus, ribs, femora, pelvis, and sternum is responsible for forming platelets, erythrocytes, and granular leukocytes. Agranular leukocytes are created in the spleen, lymph nodes, tonsils and thymus. As soon as the blood cell life comes to an end, the liver and the spleen destroy them.

General Composition of the Blood. Blood consists of a faintly yellow fluid, the plasma or liquor sanguinis, in which are suspended numerous minute particles, the blood corpuscles, the majority of which are colored and give to the blood its red tint. If a drop of blood be placed in a thin layer on a glass slide and examined under the microscope, a number of these corpuscles will be seen floating in the plasma. Blood also contains hormones, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and gases. We know that blood is made mostly of plasma. But there are 3 main types of blood cells that circulate with the plasma:

Platelets, which help the blood to clot. Clotting stops the blood from flowing out of the body when a vein or artery is broken. Platelets are also called thrombocytes.

Red blood cells, which carry oxygen. Of the 3 types of blood cells, red blood cells are the most plentiful. In fact, a healthy adult has about 35 trillion of them. The

body creates these cells at a rate of about 2.4 million a second, and they each have a life span of about 120 days. Red blood cells are also called erythrocytes.

White blood cells, which ward off infection. These cells, which come in many shapes and sizes, are vital to the immune system. When the body is fighting off infection, it makes them in ever-increasing numbers. Still, compared to the number of red blood cells in the body, the number of white blood cells is low. Most healthy adults have about 700 times as many red blood cells as white ones. White blood cells are also called leukocytes.

What does blood do? Blood carries oxygen from the lungs and nutrients from the digestive tract to the bodys cells. It also carries away carbon dioxide and all of the waste products that the body does not need. (The kidneys filter and clean the blood.) Blood also

Helps keep your body at the right temperature Carries hormones to the bodys cells Sends antibodies to fight infection Contains clotting factors to help the blood to clot and the bodys tissues to heal