Dictionary > Erythrocyte

Erythrocyte

Definition
noun, plural: erythrocytes
A blood cell with hemoglobin-rich cytoplasm and whose main function is to transport respiratory gases, chiefly oxygen
Supplement
Blood is the circulating fluid in the body of eukaryotic animals. It is primarily composed of plasma and cellular elements (blood cells and platelets). A majority of the cellular elements is the red blood cells. A mature red blood cell is termed an erythrocyte.
An erythrocyte is the blood cell involved in the transport of respiratory gases, particularly oxygen and carbon dioxide. Oxygen molecules move into the erythrocytes from the air inspired via the respiratory organs (e.g. the lungs of terrestrial vertebrates or the gills of fish). The erythrocytes deliver the oxygen (via the circulatory system) to hypoxic tissues needing oxygenation. With the release of oxygen molecules, most carbon dioxide molecules (from tissues diffusing into the blood plasma) move into the erythrocytes to be transported and eventually released outside via the respiratory system. In humans, carbon dioxide molecules from the erythrocytes are released as bicarbonate ions into the plasma and then converted back to carbon dioxide upon reaching the alveolar space in lungs to be expired.
The presence of high concentration of hemoglobin in the cytoplasm of erythrocytes enables the transport of respiratory gases, mainly oxygen. The hemoglobin binds with oxygen molecules. Each hemoglobin has an affinity for four oxygen molecules. When oxygenated, it renders the erythrocyte red, thus, accounting for the color of the cell. The hemoglobin may also pick up few carbon dioxide but most of the carbon dioxide diffusing into the erythrocyte react with water molecules, forming carbonic acid (which later dissociates into bicarbonate ion and hydrogen ion). Most of the hydrogen ions attach to hemoglobin and other proteins to control the acidity of blood and thereby maintain the normal pH of blood.
Most vertebrates have red blood cells that remain nucleated. However, in mammals including humans, the mature red blood cells are biconcave and anucleated. The crocodile icefish of family Channichthyidae is the only vertebrate group to naturally lack erythrocytes and obtain oxygen from their oxygen-rich aquatic habitat via passive transport.
Word origin: Latin erythro– (“red”) +‎ –cyte (“cell”)
Also called:

  • red blood cell
  • red blood corpuscle
  • haematid
  • erythroid cell

See also:

  • blood
  • blood cell
  • blood group
  • hemoglobin
  • erythropoiesis
  • reticulocyte
  • Related term(s):

    • Erythrocyte aggregation intravascular
    • Erythrocyte aging
    • Erythrocyte count
    • Erythrocyte deformability
    • Erythrocyte inclusions
    • Erythrocyte indices
    • Erythrocyte membrane
    • Erythrocyte membrane protein band 4.1
    • Erythrocyte transfusion
    • Erythrocyte volume
    • Erythrocyte volume fraction

    Related form(s):

  • erythrocytic (adjective, of, pertaining to, or relating to an erythrocyte)


    You will also like...

    Consciousness and behavior
    Consciousness and Behavior

    Human consciousness and behavior are an interesting topic since they are determined and controlled by the brain. Conscio..

    DNA - schematic
    Genetic Mutations

    This tutorial looks at the mutation at the gene level and the harm it may bring. Learn about single nucleotide polymorph..

    river
    Running Water Freshwater Communities

    This tutorial introduces flowing water communities, which bring new and dithering factors into the equation for possible..

    mRNA
    Protein Synthesis

    Part of the genetic information is devoted to the synthesis of proteins. mRNA, a type of RNA, is produced as a transcri..

    Cell structure
    Cell Structure

    A typical eukaryotic cell is comprised of cytoplasm with different organelles, such as nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, G..

    New Zealand - Biodiversity fauna
    New Zealand’s Biodiversity

    Find out more about New Zealand's unique biodiversity by exploring a range of different ecosystems and the key role of s..