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Functions of Red Blood Cells

Introduction to the Functions of Red Blood Cells:

Red Blood Cells (RBCs) transport respiratory gases through the blood stream so they can be exchanged at the lungs and tissues.

Involved in this process is the molecule, image descriptionhemoglobin. Each RBC makes and stores about 200-300 million of these complex proteins. There are so many that they take up about a third of the cell volume.

Red Blood Cells transport respiratory gases through the blood stream. Review the functions of red blood cells in this interactive tutorial.
Hemoglobin molecules in an RBC animation slide 2
Hemoglobin molecules in an RBC animation slide 3
Hemoglobin molecules in an RBC animation slide 4
Hemoglobin molecules in an RBC animation slide 5
Hemoglobin molecules in an RBC animation slide 6
Hemoglobin molecules in an RBC animation slide 7
Hemoglobin molecules in an RBC animation slide 8
Hemoglobin molecules in RBCs.

As blood flows through the image descriptiontissues, hemoglobin accepts CO2 from surrounding cells and releases O2.

Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 1
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 2
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 3
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 4
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 5
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 6
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 7
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 8
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 9
Hemoglobin molecules accepting CO2 and releasing O2 animation slide 10
Hemoglobin accepting CO2 and releasing O2.
  • The loss of O2 causes the colour of hemoglobin (and RBCs) to change from red to purple.

The situation rapidly reverses in the image descriptionlungs, where the hemoglobin bonds to O2 and releases CO2.

The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 1
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 2
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 3
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 4
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 5
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 6
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 7
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 8
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 9
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 10
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 11
The hemoglobin molecules bonding with O2 and releasing CO2 animation slide 12
Hemoglobin bonding with O2 and releasing CO2.

An enzyme called image descriptioncarbonic anhydrase is also made and stored by RBCs.

Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 1
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 2
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 3
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 4
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 5
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 6
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 7
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 8
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 9
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme in RBCs animation slide 10
Carbonic anhydrase enzyme stored in RBCs

In the image descriptiontissues, carbonic anhydrase catalyzes (accelerates) a reversible reaction that converts CO2 to HCO3- (bicarbonate ions).

Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 1
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 2
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 3
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 4
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 5
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 6
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 7
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 8
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 9
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 10
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 11
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 12
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 13
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 14
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 15
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reaction converting CO2 into HCO3- animation slide 16
Carbonic anhydrase catalyzing a reversible reaction converting CO2 into HCO3-.
  • Most of the CO2 that enters the RBCs is converted to this water-soluble ion and released into the plasma.

In the image descriptionlungs, bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs from the plasma and are converted back to CO2, which is exhaled.

Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 1
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 2
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 3
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 4
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 5
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 6
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 7
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 8
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 9
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 10
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 11
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 12
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 13
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 14
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 15
Bicarbonate ions enter the RBCs and are converted back into CO2 animation slide 16
Bicarbonate ions entering the RBCs from the plasma and converting back into CO2.