Blood is a body fluid in the circulatory system of humans and other vertebrates that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells, and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. Blood in the circulatory system is also known as peripheral blood, and the blood cells it carries, peripheral blood cells.
Blood is composed of blood cells suspended in blood plasma. Plasma, which constitutes 55% of blood fluid, is mostly water (92% by volume), and contains proteins, glucose, mineral ions, hormones, carbon dioxide (plasma being the main medium for excretory product transportation), and blood cells themselves. Albumin is the main protein in plasma, and it functions to regulate the colloidal osmotic pressure of blood. The blood cells are mainly red blood cells (also called RBCs or erythrocytes), white blood cells (also called WBCs or leukocytes), and in mammals platelets (also called thrombocytes). The most abundant cells in vertebrate blood are red blood cells. These contain hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein, which facilitates oxygen transport by reversibly binding to this respiratory gas thereby increasing its solubility in blood. In contrast, carbon dioxide is mostly transported extracellularly as bicarbonate ion transported in plasma.
Some animals, such as crustaceans and mollusks, use hemocyanin to carry oxygen, instead of hemoglobin. Insects and some mollusks use a fluid called hemolymph instead of blood, the difference being that hemolymph is not contained in a closed circulatory system. In most insects, this "blood" does not contain oxygen-carrying molecules such as hemoglobin because their bodies are small enough for their tracheal system to suffice for supplying oxygen.
Jawed vertebrates have an adaptive immune system, based largely on white blood cells. White blood cells help to resist infections and parasites. Platelets are important in the clotting of blood. Arthropods, using hemolymph, have hemocytes as part of their immune system.
Blood is circulated around the body through blood vessels by the pumping action of the heart. In animals with lungs, arterial blood carries oxygen from inhaled air to the tissues of the body, and venous blood carries carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism produced by cells, from the tissues to the lungs to be exhaled.
Medical terms related to blood often begin with hemo-, hemato-, haemo- or haemato- from the Greek word αἷμα (haima) for "blood". In terms of anatomy and histology, blood is considered a specialized form of connective tissue, given its origin in the bones and the presence of potential molecular fibers in the form of fibrinogen.
Human blood is typical of that of mammals, although the precise details concerning cell numbers, size, protein structure, and so on, vary somewhat between species. In non-mammalian vertebrates, however, there are some key differences:
Blood is circulated around the body through blood vessels by the pumping action of the heart. In humans, blood is pumped from the strong left ventricle of the heart through arteries to peripheral tissues and returns to the right atrium of the heart through veins. It then enters the right ventricle and is pumped through the pulmonary artery to the lungs and returns to the left atrium through the pulmonary veins. Blood then enters the left ventricle to be circulated again. Arterial blood carries oxygen from inhaled air to all of the cells of the body, and venous blood carries carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism by cells, to the lungs to be exhaled. However, one exception includes pulmonary arteries, which contain the most deoxygenated blood in the body, while the pulmonary veins contain oxygenated blood.
In vertebrates, the various cells of blood are made in the bone marrow in a process called hematopoiesis, which includes erythropoiesis, the production of red blood cells; and myelopoiesis, the production of white blood cells and platelets. During childhood, almost every human bone produces red blood cells; as adults, red blood cell production is limited to the larger bones: the bodies of the vertebrae, the breastbone (sternum), the ribcage, the pelvic bones, and the bones of the upper arms and legs. In addition, during childhood, the thymus gland, found in the mediastinum, is an important source of T lymphocytes.The proteinaceous component of blood (including clotting proteins) is produced predominantly by the liver, while hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and the watery fraction is regulated by the hypothalamus and maintained by the kidney.
About 98.5% of the oxygen in a sample of arterial blood in a healthy human breathing air at sea-level pressure is chemically combined with the hemoglobin. About 1.5% is physically dissolved in the other blood liquids and not connected to hemoglobin. The hemoglobin molecule is the primary transporter of oxygen in mammals and many other species (for exceptions, see below). Hemoglobin has an oxygen binding capacity between 1.36 and 1.40 ml O2 per gram hemoglobin, which increases the total blood oxygen capacity seventyfold, compared to if oxygen solely were carried by its solubility of 0.03 ml O2 per liter blood per mm Hg partial pressure of oxygen (about 100 mm Hg in arteries).
With the exception of pulmonary and umbilical arteries and their corresponding veins, arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart and deliver it to the body via arterioles and capillaries, where the oxygen is consumed; afterwards, venules and veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
Hemoglobin, the main oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells, carries both oxygen and carbon dioxide. However, the CO2 bound to hemoglobin does not bind to the same site as oxygen. Instead, it combines with the N-terminal groups on the four globin chains. However, because of allosteric effects on the hemoglobin molecule, the binding of CO2 decreases the amount of oxygen that is bound for a given partial pressure of oxygen. The decreased binding to carbon dioxide in the blood due to increased oxygen levels is known as the Haldane effect, and is important in the transport of carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs. A rise in the partial pressure of CO2 or a lower pH will cause offloading of oxygen from hemoglobin, which is known as the Bohr effect.
In mammals, blood is in equilibrium with lymph, which is continuously formed in tissues from blood by capillary ultrafiltration. Lymph is collected by a system of small lymphatic vessels and directed to the thoracic duct, which drains into the left subclavian vein, where lymph rejoins the systemic blood circulation.
Blood circulation transports heat throughout the body, and adjustments to this flow are an important part of thermoregulation. Increasing blood flow to the surface (e.g., during warm weather or strenuous exercise) causes warmer skin, resulting in faster heat loss. In contrast, when the external temperature is low, blood flow to the extremities and surface of the skin is reduced and to prevent heat loss and is circulated to the important organs of the body, preferentially.
Rate of blood flow varies greatly between different organs. Liver has the most abundant blood supply with an approximate flow of 1350 ml/min. Kidney and brain are the second and the third most supplied organs, with 1100 ml/min and 700 ml/min, respectively.
Another example of a hydraulic function is the jumping spider, in which blood forced into the legs under pressure causes them to straighten for a powerful jump, without the need for bulky muscular legs.
In insects, the blood (more properly called hemolymph) is not involved in the transport of oxygen. (Openings called tracheae allow oxygen from the air to diffuse directly to the tissues.) Insect blood moves nutrients to the tissues and removes waste products in an open system.
In many invertebrates, these oxygen-carrying proteins are freely soluble in the blood; in vertebrates they are contained in specialized red blood cells, allowing for a higher concentration of respiratory pigments without increasing viscosity or damaging blood filtering organs like the kidneys.
Hemoglobin is the principal determinant of the color of blood in vertebrates. Each molecule has four heme groups, and their interaction with various molecules alters the exact color. In vertebrates and other hemoglobin-using creatures, arterial blood and capillary blood are bright red, as oxygen imparts a strong red color to the heme group. Deoxygenated blood is a darker shade of red; this is present in veins, and can be seen during blood donation and when venous blood samples are taken. This is because the spectrum of light absorbed by hemoglobin differs between the oxygenated and deoxygenated states.
Veins close to the surface of the skin appear blue for a variety of reasons. However, the factors that contribute to this alteration of color perception are related to the light-scattering properties of the skin and the processing of visual input by the visual cortex, rather than the actual color of the venous blood.
The blood of some species of ascidians and tunicates, also known as sea squirts, contains proteins called vanadins. These proteins are based on vanadium, and give the creatures a concentration of vanadium in their bodies 100 times higher than the surrounding seawater. Unlike hemocyanin and hemoglobin, hemovanadin is not an oxygen carrier. When exposed to oxygen, however, vanadins turn a mustard yellow.
Substances other than oxygen can bind to hemoglobin; in some cases, this can cause irreversible damage to the body. Carbon monoxide, for example, is extremely dangerous when carried to the blood via the lungs by inhalation, because carbon monoxide irreversibly binds to hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin, so that less hemoglobin is free to bind oxygen, and fewer oxygen molecules can be transported throughout the blood. This can cause suffocation insidiously. A fire burning in an enclosed room with poor ventilation presents a very dangerous hazard, since it can create a build-up of carbon monoxide in the air. Some carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin when smoking tobacco. 041b061a72