Red Blood Cell

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I need to complete a project over the summer on cells. I have gotten stuck on these to questions.

How do certain organelles help the red blood cell to do its special job.

How does the red blood cell work with other cells in a tissue and organ.

Posted Mon 19th August, 2013 @ 11:53 by Hannah

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How do certain organelles help the red blood cell to do its special job?

The normal mammalian red blood cell takes the shape of a biconcave disc, approximately 7 - 8 micometers in diameter. The cytoplasm of the mature mammalian red cell consists of nothing more than an aqueous solution of simple inorganic and organic molecules and macromolecules, with a high concentartion of the protein hemoglobin.

The mature cell contains no internal membranous structures. That is, the mature cell has no nucleus and no organelles. As red blood cells develop and mature in bone marrow, the nucleus and organelles completely deteriorate. This is, of course, by design. Mature red blood cells must be able to squeeze through the smallest capillaries; the nucleus and organelles would interfere with this.

How does the red blood cell work with other cells in a tissue and organ?

Carries Oxygen:

The main function of the red blood cell is to transport oxygen from the lungs, to the other tissues and cells of the body. And how does the RBC manage to do this? Well, the hemoglobin present in the RBC is a protein, which binds itself to the oxygen molecules inhaled. When a person inhales, oxygen from the atmosphere enters the body through the nostril and reaches the lungs. At the lungs, hemoglobin molecules bind themselves to the oxygen molecules and move to the heart. From the heart, the same oxygen-containing blood is pumped to the rest of the body parts (muscles, tissues and other organs). The hemoglobin molecules then release the oxygen molecules to the cells of the body. Basically, hemoglobin takes oxygen from high oxygen level areas and releases them in low oxygen level areas of the body. Thus, RBCs actually perform the function of transporting life-sustaining oxygen to the different parts of the body.

Carries Carbon Dioxide:

The other function of the red blood cell is to partly carry carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of metabolic activities in the body. Carbon dioxide is actually formed in the cells as a result of the chemical reactions taking place. This waste product is then excreted through the blood plasma and RBCs. While the RBCs play a major role in eliminating carbon dioxide from the cells, blood plasma also accounts for a small amount of carbon dioxide removal. The hemoglobin in the RBCs bind the carbon dioxide molecules to form carbaminohaemoglobin. However, unlike oxygen molecules, carbon dioxide molecules do not bind to the iron part of hemoglobin. Instead, they combine with the amino acid groups on the hemoglobin polypeptide chains. Thus, RBCs transport carbon dioxide from the various cells of the body and take them to the lungs, from where it is discarded by exhalation.

This round trip of transporting oxygen to the tissues and then bringing waste materials to the lungs for elimination, takes the RBCs only 30 to 45 seconds. The ability of the RBC to transport oxygen depends on several factors like pH of the blood, temperature, etc. Moreover, the presence of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, etc. in the blood also affects hemoglobin's oxygen carrying capacity.

The exact process of oxygen transfer from the hemoglobin to the tissues of the body is a complex one. However, this was a simple way of explaining the function of red blood cells. Don't be fooled by the easy explanation and think that the RBC does nothing of great significance. If at all these RBCs stop functioning, then the body will surely have life-threatening issues. Blood disorders like sickle-cell anemia, hemolytic anemia, hemochromatosis, hereditary spherocytosis and various other red cell enzyme deficiencies can occur and pose a threat to one's life.

Answered Sun 20th April, 2014 @ 15:23 by Aliya:)
Edited by Aliya:) on Sun 20th April, 2014 @ 15:23