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Whole blood has two components: (1) blood plasma, a watery liquid matrix
that contains dissolved substances, and (2) formed elements, which are cells and
cell fragments. Blood is about 45% formed elements and 55% plasma. Normally
more than 99% of the formed elements are red-colored red blood cells. Pale
colorless white blood cells and platelets occupy less than 1% of total blood volume.

Substances in Blood Plasma

Constituent Description

Water (91.5%) Liquid portion of blood. Acts as solvent and

suspending medium for components of blood;
absorbs, transports and releases heat.

Proteins (7.0%) Exert colloid osmotic pressure, which helps

maintain water balance between blood and
tissues and regulates blood volume.

Albumins Smallest and most numerous plasma proteins;

produced by liver. Function as transport
proteins for several steoid hormones and for
fatthy acids.

Globulins Produced by liver and by plasma cells, which

develop from B lymphocytes. Antibodies help
attack viruses and bacteria. Alpha and beta
globulins transport iron, lipids and fat-soluble

Fibrinogen Produced by liver. Plays essential role in blood

Formed Elements in Blood

Name Number Characteristics Functions

Red Blood Cells 4.8million/µL (F) 7-8µm diameter; Hemoglobin within

5.4million/µL (M) biconcave discs, RBCs transports most
without a nucleus; of the oxygen and
live for about 120 part of the carbon
days dioxide in the blood

White Blood 5000 – 10,000/µL Most live for a few Combat pathogens
Cells hours to a few days and other foreign
substances that enter
the body

Neutrophils 60-70% of all 10-12µm diameter; Phagocytosis.

WBCs nucleus has 2-5 Destruction of
lobes connected by bacteria with
thin strands of lysozyme, defensis,
chromatin; and strong oxidants,
cytoplasm has very such as superoxide
fine, pale lilac anion, hydrogen
granules peroxide, and
hypochlorite anion

Eosinophils 2-4% of all WBCs 10-12µm diameter; Combat the effects of

nucleus has 2-3 histamine in allergic
lobes; large red- reactions,
orange granules fill phagocytize antigen-
the cytoplasm antibody complexes,
and destroy certain
parasitic worms

Basophils 0.5-1% of all 8-10µm diameter; Liberate heparin,

WBCs nucleus has 2 histamine and
lobes; large serotonin in allergic
cytoplasmic reactions that
granules appear intensify the overall
deep blue-purple inflammatory
Name Number Characteristics Functions

Lymphocytes 20-25% of all Small lymphocytes Mediate immune

WBCs are 6-9µm in responses, including
diameter; large antigen-antibody
lymphocytes are reactions. B cells
10-14 µm in develop into plasma
diameter; nucleus cells, which secrete
is round or slightly antibodies. T cells
indented; attach invading
cytoplasm forms a viruses, cancer cells
rim around the and transplanted
nucleus that looks tissue cells. Natural
sky blue; the larger killer cells attack a
the cell, the more wide variety of
cytoplasm is visible infectious microbes
and certain
spontaneously arising
tumor cells

Monocytes 3-8% of all WBCs 12-20µm diameter; Phagocytosis (after

nucleus is transforming into
kidneyshaped or fixed or wandering
horseshoe shaped; macrophages).
cytoplasm is blue-
gray and has foamy

Platelets 150,000- 2-4µm diameter cell Form platelet plug in

400,000/µL fragments that live hemostasis; release
for 5-9 days; chemicals that
contain many promote vascular
vesicles but no spasm and blood
nucleus clotting