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36 Blood and Lymph

36 Blood and Lymph

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Published by Manan Bhatt

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Published by: Manan Bhatt on Nov 23, 2008
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Structure & Function of Blood and Lymph
B io F actsheet
January 1999Number 36
This Factsheet summarises1.The structure and function of blood plasma, red blood cellsand white blood cells.2.The formation of lymph and tissue fluid from blood plasma.3.The ABO and Rhesus blood group systems.4.Blood clotting.
Polymorphonucleargranulocytesl. Neutrophils2. Eosinophils3. BasophilsAgranulocytes1. Monocytes2. LymphocytesBlood CellsPlasmaFormed elementseg. PlateletsErythrocytes/ Red cellsLeucocytes/ White cells
Fig 1 . The components of bloodTable 1. Characteristics of different blood componentsFig 2. Appearance of a red blood cell
Side viewSurface view7.1mm
Red cell envelopeCytoplasmicmatrix containinghaemoglobinComponentErythrocyteLeucocytes(5 types)PlateletsDiameter (micrometres)7.17 - 192 - 4Made inRed bone marrowRed bone marrow orlymphatic system(lymphocytes)Red bone marrowLife span120 daysFew hours tofew days5 - 9 daysFunctionTransport of respiratory gasesVarious defencefunctionsClotting
The components of blood
Blood is the main medium of transport within the body and consists of aliquid phase called plasma in which are floating cells and formed elements.(Fig 1).About 55% of the blood volume consists of a straw coloured liquid calledplasma, the other 45% being made up of cells. The cells are eithererythrocytes (red cells) or leucocytes (white cells). In addition there arealso platelets (thrombocytes) present which are fragments of cytoplasm.(Table l).Blood has several major functions:1.Transport2.Defence3.Formation of lymph and tissue fluid4.Homeostasis
Blood plasma
The composition of plasma e.g. its pH, salt concentration and osmoticpressure are precisely regulated by the kidney. This helps to provide anoptimum environment for the cells which are bathed in tissue fluid, itself derived from blood. Plasma contains:Plasma proteins e.g. albumins, globulins and clotting factors, such asfibrinogen. Albumins and fibrinogen are made by the liver and secreted intothe blood, while the gamma globulins are made by plasma cells (activatedlymphocytes) already present in the blood and lymphatic system. Thegamma globulins are antibodies which protect against disease organisms.Albumins are the most abundant of the plasma proteins and are responsiblefor much of the osmotic pressure of blood, therefore holding water in theblood, thus maintaining blood pressure and volume. Albumins and someglobulins also act as carrier proteins for substances which are insoluble inplasma. For example, the hormone thyroxine is transported from the thyroidgland by attaching onto a specific globulin and cholesterol is carried onlipoproteins (protein plus lipid units). Absorbed digested food productssuch as glucose, excretory products such as urea, salts such as sodiumchloride and many hormones are dissolved and carried in the plasma.
Erythrocytes (Fig 2) are little more than packets of the red coloured protein,haemoglobin, surrounded by a cell membrane. The nucleus is lost duringdifferentiation in the red bone marrow so that a mature red cell is shapedlike a biconcave disc. This disc shape gives it a large surface area in relationto volume, as required for efficient gas exchange. The shape can also bedistorted to enable cells to squeeze through capillaries and sinusoids asnarrow as 6 micrometres in diameter. Thus the passage of red cells isslowed up allowing more efficiency in gas exchange in the capillaries.
Structure & Function of Blood and Lymph
Bio Factsheet
Fig 3. The formation and drainage of lymph
BP = 4.8kPaOp = 4.3kPaarterial end blood capillaries venous endblood flowBP = 3.9kPaOp = 4.3kPaFiltration of lymph fromplasma (netfiltrationpressure =0.5kPa)Exchange of nutrients andwastes between tissue fluid(lymph) and cellsOsmosisLymphlymph returns byosmosis (netuptake pressure =0.4 kPa)surplus lymph enterslymphatic vesselsBP = blood pressure in kilopascalsOP = osmotic pressure of plasma proteins in kilopascals
The respiratory pigment, haemoglobin, allows the blood to carry enoughoxygen to meet the body’s needs, buffers the blood pH to between 7.2 and7.6, and carries some waste carbon dioxide. The red cells also contain theenzyme
carbonic anhydrase
, which is involved with blood carbon dioxidetransport in the form of hydrogen carbonate ions.In order to synthesise haemoglobin when red blood cells are made in the redbone marrow, there must be a supply of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Alack of any of these results in some form of anaemia. Before birth, red cellsare also formed in the fetal liver and in the placenta. As red cells age theybecome fragile and eventually rupture when squeezing through the narrowblood sinusoids of the liver and spleen. Eventually, they are broken downin the liver.
The structure of the five types of leucocyte is shown in Table 2. Thegranulocytes have granules in their cytoplasm and multilobed nuclei (i.e.they are polymorphonuclear), whereas the agranulocytes have nocytoplasmic granules and have either an oval or horseshoe shaped nucleus.The granulocytes and monocytes can all move through the tissues byamoeboid action. Lymphocytes cannot, since they do not have enoughcytoplasm to form pseudopodia. They move passively with blood andtissue fluid flow.
The formation and drainage of lymph
This is illustrated in Fig 3.
Produced in
red bone marrowlymphatic tissue(spleen, lymphnodes, tonsils)red bone marrowred bone marrowred bone marrow
Table 2. Structure and function of leucocytes
Strong phagocyte against bacteria andviruses which have been coated inantibodies. Promotes immune response bytransferring some of the ingested bacteriaor virus into the lymph nodes.Produce antibodies which will neutralisespecific bacterial or viral antigens.Act as phagocytes - ingesting and breakingdown the debris of antigen-antibodyreactions. Attracted to inflamed tissue bychemotaxis. Contain lysosomes (packetsof digestive enzymes) used for breakingdown ingested bacteria.Produce antihistamines which combat theeffects of allergens. Act as phagocytes.Release:1.Antihistamines2.Herparin - suppresses unnecessaryblood clotting3.Serotonin - makes capillary walls more'leaky' during infection so thatphagocytes can escape more easily
(largest white cell)Horseshoe shapednucleusPhagocytosedbacteriaRound, indentednucleusSmall amount of cytoplasm.Lobed nucleus (2 - 5lobes)PhagocytosedbacteriaLysosomesBilobed nucleusLarge red staininggranulesLobed nucleusLarge blue staininggranules containingheparin, histamineand serotonin
Structure & Function of Blood and Lymph
Bio Factsheet
Intercellular fluid or lymph is derived from blood plasma but containsvirtually no protein, since the plasma proteins are too large to escapethrough the capillary walls. Thus they are retained within the blood wherethey exert an osmotic pressure. Lymph is formed at the arterial end of thecapillary bed where it is forced out of the capillaries by a relatively highblood pressure of around 4.8 kilopascals. This carries glucose, salts, othernutrients, oxygen and hormones to the cells. The proteins, retained in theblood plasma, exert an osmotic pressure of around 4.3 kPa which tends todraw some of the water of the lymph back into the blood, thus concentratingthe lymph. The effective filtration pressure forming lymph is thus 4.8 - 4.3= 0.5 kPa.The lymph then percolates around the cells exchanging oxygen and nutrientsfor waste products, such as carbon dioxide and urea. The lymph in thissituation is known as tissue fluid. Much of the lymph returns to the bloodplasma at the venous end of the capillary bed. Here the blood pressure hasfallen to around 3.9 kPa, but the osmotic pressure of the plasma proteinsremains around 4.3 kPa. Thus the net uptake pressure for drawing lymphback into the capillaries is 4.3 - 3.9 = 0.4 kPa. Since the formation pressurewas 0.5 kPa, this means that some of the lymph formed cannot get back into the capillaries at the venous end. This surplus lymph is collected upinto open ended vein like vessels called lymphatics. These eventually all join up and empty the lymph into the blood at the left subclavian vein.The lymph vessels contain valves to prevent backflow of lymph which ismoved along by the pressure of surrounding muscles and other organs.Along the lymph vessels, at intervals are small bodies called lymph nodes,through which the lymph drains. Here phagocytes can engulf any bacteriaor other debris in the lymph. The lymph nodes also contain and producelymphocytes, which can be released into the lymph.
Exam Hint 
- The two systems occurring on some Human Biology syllabuses are the ABO and Rhesus systems, although data questions have been set on other blood group systems, even in Biology syllabuses.
Blood group systems
The ABO system concerns the presence or absence of two antigens(actually called agglutinogens since they can agglutinate or clump togetherthe red cells). These agglutinogens are proteins A and B which are situatedon the surface of the red blood cells.BloodGroupABABOAgglutinogen/ Antigen onred cellsABA&BNeitherAgglutinin/ Antibody inplasmaantibody Bantibody ANeitherantibody A+antibody BCan receive wholeblood fromGroups A and OGroups B and OGroups A, B, AB & OGroup O
Group AGroup BGroup ABGroup O
Agglutinogen A
 # #
Agglutinogen B
 # #
Table 3. Presence of agglutinogen in each blood group
The presence or absence of agglutinogens is genetically controlled. Plasmacontains specific antigens (called agglutinins) which are also determinedgenetically. Agglutinin A will cause the clumping together of red cellswhich contain agglutinogen A. Agglutinin B will clump together red cellswhich contain agglutinogen B. You do not possess agglutinins against yourown red cells but your plasma does contain agglutinins to attack anyforeign agglutinogens. Thus, Group A people possess agglutinin B in theirplasma and Group B people possess agglutinin A. Thus in bloodtransfusions it is important to match the bloods correctly so that therecipient’s agglutinins (in their plasma) will not agglutinate the donor’s redcells. If this occurs the clumped red cells block small blood vessels, such asthe glomeruli in the kidney, resulting in death. Table 4 summarisesinformation about the ABO system.
Table 4. ABO blood group system
Group AB people have no antibodies and so can, in theory, receive bloodof all groups. Thus they are called ‘universal recipients’’. Group O bloodcan, in theory, be given to all recipients, and thus Group O people arereferred to as ‘universal donors’. In transfusion, the agglutinin in the donationis so diluted by entry into the whole blood volume of the recipient, that itdoes not cause any agglutination problems.The rhesus system was first discovered in rhesus monkeys but also occursin humans. People who are rhesus positive possess the rhesus agglutinogenon their red blood cells and make up about 85% of the UK population.15% of the population have no agglutinogens and are called rhesus negative.Under normal circumstances the plasma does not contain anti rhesusagglutinins (anti D) which only develop if the immune response is invokedby the introduction of rhesus positive cells into a rhesus negative person.This could happen if a rhesus negative person receives a transfusion of rhesus positive blood in error. This is not serious on the first occasion, butif it occurs twice, because the first transfusion sensitised the immunesystem to the rhesus agglutinogen, a quick serious agglutination reactionoccurs.
Blood clotting
Excess blood loss is prevented by haemostasis. Damaged blood vesselsimmediately constrict, decreasing blood flow and loss. Damage to theendothelium of the vessel exposes collagen fibres. Platelets that touchthis collagen become large and sticky and rapidly form a plug to coverthe exposed area. Clotting then occurs as follows:1.Damaged tissue cells and platelets release the enzyme
.2.Thromboplastin converts the inactive plasma protein
into the enzyme
. Ca
ions are neededas a cofactor for this reaction.3.Thrombin converts the soluble plasma protein
.4.Fibrin plugs the damaged vessel.In the hours and days after clotting the fibrin threads contract andcross bond to pull the walls of the damaged vessel closer together andto retract (shrink) the clot. More fibrin may be added as this rupturesmore platelets, and so the clot thickens and hardens to become thescab. As the clot retracts, a yellowish fluid called serum is forced outof it. Serum is blood plasma minus the clotting factors. The scab actsas a scaffold on which the tissue can be repaired. Fibrinolysis is thedissolving of the clot once tissue repair is complete. Scabs on the bodysurface can fall off, but those deep in the body are broken down byenzymes called plasmins which are formed from plasma proteinsknown as plasminogens.

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