Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are the prominent plentiful cells in the bloodstream and has hemoglobin, the substance that takes oxygen via the entire body . Although hemoglobin can happen in a free state in certain animals, in the body of a human it has to be comprised within a cell – the red blood cell. Any damage of the red blood cells, its volume, shape, size, structure or life cycle can therefore impact the oxygen-carrying capability of the blood.
Functions of Red blood cells:
Red blood Cells 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.
Red blood Cells 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.