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Do blood cells immediately die after leaving the body?

Do blood cells immediately die after leaving the body?


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I am wondering, do blood cells die right after they leave the body?


No. If they did, blood transfusions wouldn't be possible (or they would require some sort of direct body-to-body system).

Red cells collected can be stored under refrigeration for over a month. See for example the description of what happens to donated blood from the Red Cross. Platelets don't last quite as long, but they also survive for some time in the right conditions. Of course, some cells die during storage, but there is no instantaneous die-off once cells leave the body.


Blood cells do not die immediately because they still have some amount of nutrients in them that they can use until it finishes. They only die when they lose their source of nutrients after using up all that is in them.

Cells in blood still have access to nutrients due the presence of plasma which helps keep them alive for while.

Put in a fridge(4-18°C), the temperature slows their rate of metabolism allows which further extends their lifespan. But can die of heat shock if frozen and thawed. You can read more on it in;

Effect of Blood Storage on Complete Biochemistry

Effect of Specimen Collection and Storage on Blood…

The pathophysiology and consequences of red blood cell storage

Red blood cell storage time and transfusion: current practice, concerns and future perspectives


The Journey of a Red Blood Cell

Red Blood Cells (also known as Erythrocytes), are cellular components of blood. There are millions of them within the human body and their sole purpose is to carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body, as well as carrying carbon dioxide to the lungs so it can be exhaled. The blood cell is characterised by a red colour due to the presence of hemoglobin, which is a protein that helps bind oxygen to the cell.

The red blood cell goes through a complex journey through the body, going from a deoxygenated blood cell to an oxygenated blood cell, and entering the heart twice. Below, we&rsquove laid out the journey of a red blood cell in the human body:

Step 1 - Creation of the Red Blood Cell

The journey starts with the red cell being created inside the bone. In the bone marrow, it develops in several stages starting as a hemocytoblast, then becoming an erythroblast after 2 to 5 days of development. After filling with hemoglobin it becomes a reticulocyte, which then becomes a fully matured red blood cell. This will be of a specific blood type, determined by the presence or absence of certain antibodies - learn more about blood grouping products here.

Step 2 - The Red Blood Cell's Journey begins

After creation, the red blood cell starts travelling to the heart via capillaries. The blood cell is currently deoxygenated.

Step 3 - Entering the Heart

The deoxygenated red blood cell now makes its way to the vena cava within the heart, and is then pushed into the right atrium.

The right atrium then contracts, pushing the blood cell through the tricuspid into the right ventricle.

The right ventricle then contracts, pushing the red blood cell out of the heart through the semi lunar.

Step 4 - Entering the Lungs and Oxygenation

After leaving the heart, the red blood cell travels through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. There it picks up oxygen making the deoxygenated red blood cell now an oxygenated blood cell. The blood cell then makes it way back to the heart via the pulmonary vein into the left atrium.

Step 5 - Re-entering the heart

After entering the left atrium, which then contracts and pushes the blood cell through the bicuspid, the red blood cell then enters the left ventricle.

The left ventricle then contracts, pushing the red blood cell through the semi lunar, and out of the heart into the aorta.

Step 6 - Travelling around the body

Travelling through the aorta, the red blood cell goes into the kidneys trunk and other lower limbs, delivering oxygenated blood around the body. They typically last for 120 days before they die.

And that&rsquos the whole process! Although this seems like a lengthy process, the whole thing takes less than a minute from start to finish, depending on the individual&rsquos heart rate.

In some cases such as illnesses or blood loss following injury or childbirth, the body may have too few red blood cells to provide the oxygen required by the body's extremities. This is where a blood transfusion becomes vital. At Lorne Laboratories all our blood grouping reagents and red cell products comply with the UK Red Book Standards to ensure safe blood transfusions.

Got questions about our products and how they impact the journey of the red blood cell? Email our team at Lorne Labs HQ and we'll be happy to assist you.


Male donors need to wait a minimum of 12 weeks between whole blood donations and female donors 16 weeks. So why wait? Unlike white cells and platelets, it takes several weeks for all the red cells to be replaced. You can schedule your appointments the right distance apart using our online appointment system.

There's an important link between your red cells and your health because it's these cells, or rather the red-coloured haemoglobin they contain, that take oxygen around your body. Haemoglobin contains iron, and some is lost with each blood donation. To compensate, iron is mobilised from the body's iron stores, and the body also increases the amount of iron it absorbs from food and drink. Men normally have more iron stores than women.


Why do the red blood cells stay alive when donating blood, and not die off quickly?

My friend asked me why these cells are able to stay alive after leaving the body. Presumably the donated blood still needs to be able to carry oxygen when given to a patient. Also, how is donated blood stored, and how long can it be stored before it goes "stale"?

Quite often when blood is donated it is separated into components and stored. The components have different shelf lives, for red blood cells (RBCs) the shelf life is around 1.5 months if refrigerated. In the lab we store RBCs with Alsever's solution which enables them to be stored for 10 weeks if refrigerated.

RBCs are able to 'stay alive' when they leave the body and stored as they are not your typical cell. They are simply sacks of haemoglobin that do not contain a nucleus or most organelles and have no immediate need for oxygen/energy (though they can use energy/ATP for a few cellular functions).


What happens in my body when I get a cut?

“It’s just a flesh wound…” Whether a small nick or a large gash, our bodies jump into action once the skin is broken.

Your skin’s most important job is to keep out the billions of harmful bacteria that swarm over every surface. Any wound that penetrates the dermis layer and causes bleeding will allow bacteria to get in, so we have evolved a precisely coordinated mechanism to seal up the gap as quickly as possible. The healing process uses extra collagen protein for the repair, so the new skin is actually stronger than before. This shows as a visible scar.

1. Haemostasis

When the skin is punctured, blood vessels contract and platelets release fibrin proteins that tangle together to form a clot and seal the wound.

2. Inflammation

Next the blood vessels expand again to allow white blood cells to flock to the wound site. These attack any bacteria that got past the clot.

3. Proliferation

After a few days, fibroblast cells arrive and produce collagen. This protein acts like a scaffold, while the dermis cells reproduce to close up the wound.

1. Keep it clean

Wash the open cut to prevent bacteria getting trapped inside. Don’t use disinfectant because this will kill your own cells that are trying to repair the wound.

A plaster keeps dirt out and helps the clot form. If the wound is still bleeding after 10 minutes with a plaster on, you may need stitches.

The skin continually rebuilds the collagen matrix for up to a year after the cut. This scar tissue will fade slightly for another year after that.

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.


Good news: Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

People who have had a mild case of COVID-19 are left with long-term antibody protection against future disease, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such cells could persist for a lifetime, churning out antibodies all the while.

The findings, published May 24 in the journal Nature, suggest that mild cases of COVID-19 leave those infected with lasting antibody protection and that repeated bouts of illness are likely to be uncommon.

“Last fall, there were reports that antibodies wane quickly after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and mainstream media interpreted that to mean that immunity was not long-lived,” said senior author Ali Ellebedy, PhD, an associate professor of pathology & immunology, of medicine and of molecular microbiology. “But that’s a misinterpretation of the data. It’s normal for antibody levels to go down after acute infection, but they don’t go down to zero they plateau. Here, we found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after first symptoms. These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.”

Related: Podcast: What to make of CDC's new masking guidelines

This episode of 'Show Me the Science' details how changes in recommendations for masking will be implemented at the university and elsewhere

During a viral infection, antibody-producing immune cells rapidly multiply and circulate in the blood, driving antibody levels sky-high. Once the infection is resolved, most such cells die off, and blood antibody levels drop. A small population of antibody-producing cells, called long-lived plasma cells, migrate to the bone marrow and settle in, where they continually secrete low levels of antibodies into the bloodstream to help guard against another encounter with the virus.

The key to figuring out whether COVID-19 leads to long-lasting antibody protection, Ellebedy realized, lies in the bone marrow. To find out whether those who have recovered from mild cases of COVID-19 harbor long-lived plasma cells that produce antibodies specifically targeted to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Ellebedy teamed up with co-author Iskra Pusic, MD, an associate professor of medicine. Ellebedy already was working with co-authors Rachel Presti, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine, and Jane O’Halloran, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine, on a project to track antibody levels in blood samples from COVID-19 survivors.

The team already had enrolled 77 participants who were giving blood samples at three-month intervals starting about a month after initial infection. Most participants had had mild cases of COVID-19 only six had been hospitalized.

With Pusic’s help, Ellebedy and colleagues obtained bone marrow from 18 of the participants seven or eight months after their initial infections. Five of them came back four months later and provided a second bone marrow sample. An additional person who had recovered from COVID-19 gave bone marrow separately. For comparison, the scientists also obtained bone marrow from 11 people who had never had COVID-19.

As expected, antibody levels in the blood of the COVID-19 participants dropped quickly in the first few months after infection and then mostly leveled off, with some antibodies detectable even 11 months after infection. Further, 15 of the 19 bone marrow samples from people who had had COVID-19 contained antibody-producing cells specifically targeting the virus that causes COVID-19. Such cells could still be found four months later in the five people who came back to provide a second bone-marrow sample. None of the 11 people who had never had COVID-19 had such antibody-producing cells in their bone marrow.

“People with mild cases of COVID-19 clear the virus from their bodies two to three weeks after infection, so there would be no virus driving an active immune response seven or 11 months after infection,” Ellebedy said. “These cells are not dividing. They are quiescent, just sitting in the bone marrow and secreting antibodies. They have been doing that ever since the infection resolved, and they will continue doing that indefinitely.”

People who were infected and never had symptoms also may be left with long-lasting immunity, the researchers speculated. But it’s yet to be investigated whether those who endured more severe infection would be protected against a future bout of disease, they said.

“It could go either way,” said first author Jackson Turner, PhD, an instructor in pathology & immunology. “Inflammation plays a major role in severe COVID-19, and too much inflammation can lead to defective immune responses. But on the other hand, the reason why people get really sick is often because they have a lot of virus in their bodies, and having a lot of virus around can lead to a good immune response. So it’s not clear. We need to replicate the study in people with moderate to severe infections to understand whether they are likely to be protected from reinfection.”

Ellebedy and colleagues now are studying whether vaccination also induces long-lived antibody-producing cells.

Turner JS, Kim W, Kalaidina E, Goss CW, Rauseo AM, Schmitz AJ, Hansen L, Haile A, Klebert MK, Pusic I, O’Halloran JA, Presti RM, Ellebedy AH. SARS-CoV-2 infection induces long-lived bone marrow plasma cells in humans. Nature. May 24, 2021. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03647-4

This study was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant numbers U01AI1419901, U01AI150747 and 5T32CA009547 and contract numbers HHSN272201400006C, HHSN272201400008C and 75N93019C00051 the Norwegian Research Council, grant number 271160 and the University of Oslo’s National Graduate School in Infection Biology and Antimicrobials, grant number 249062. This study utilized samples obtained from the Washington University School of Medicine’s COVID-19 biorepository supported by the NIH/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grant number UL1 TR002345.


Two weeks in the mountains can change your blood for months

When Lauren Earthman signed up for a research project studying the effects of altitude on the human body, she thought she knew what to expect. It would be tough, but Earthman—a freshman at the University of Oregon in Eugene—was a competitive 1500-meter runner, after all. Then, she climbed out of the oxygen-equipped bus that had carried her to an elevation of 5260 meters in the Bolivian Andes. She felt OK—until she had to walk up a set of stairs. Suddenly, even that simple action, she says, was “immensely more difficult” than what she was expecting.

A few weeks later, however, Earthman was speeding up a 3.2-kilometer hill with 20 other young participants in a study, called AltitudeOmics, that has now produced a dozen publications. The most recent finding: Even short exposures to high elevation can unleash a complex cascade of changes within red blood cells that make it easier for them to cope with low-oxygen conditions. What’s more, these changes persist for weeks and possibly months, even after descending to lower elevations. That finding may be a boon for medical researchers and also for hikers, skiers, and distance runners who don’t have time for extended altitude training.

Scientists have long known that the body adjusts to the oxygen-deprived conditions of high altitudes. At 5260 meters, close to the level of the Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, the atmosphere holds 53% as much oxygen as the air at sea level, making it harder to breathe—and to exercise. The traditional explanation has been that low-oxygen conditions cause the body to build new red blood cells, making it easier to supply oxygen to muscles and vital organs. “That’s been the story for 50 years,” says Robert Roach, lead investigator and director of the Altitude Research Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

But mountaineers, backpackers, and other high-country weekend warriors have long known that this story might not be quite right. It takes weeks to produce new red blood cells, and even ordinary people can adapt within days. Now, the new study—the first to look closely at the blood of people trekking up and down mountains—has found that the body begins adapting to elevation as soon as overnight.

That’s where people like Earthman enter the story. To find out precisely what happens to the body at altitude, Roach’s team sent her and the other volunteers to a camp near the summit of the top of Bolivia’s 5421-meter Mount Chacaltaya, once the site of the world’s highest ski resort. After the first day, Earthman and her colleagues were feeling better. And after 2 weeks, they could finally complete their 3.2-kilometer climb, though Earthman doesn’t dignify the hike as “running.” “[It] was the hardest thing I have ever done,” she says.

The volunteers then left the mountains for 1 to 2 weeks, after which they went back up. Intriguingly, their bodies seemed to remember their prior experience at altitude, allowing them to fare much better than they had on their first trip up the mountain. In fact, they could still manage to get up the 3.2-kilometer hill—something that had been a problem for many of them at the start of their first visit, says Angelo D’Alessandro, a biochemist also at the Altitude Research Center.

When scientists examined the oxygen-carrying proteins, known as hemoglobin, in volunteers’ red blood cells, they found multiple changes affecting how tightly it hung onto its oxygen load. Roach says a simplistic analogy is comparing this to what happens when baseball players loosen their grip on a mitt. “If I relax my hand, it will let go of the ball,” he says. Such changes had been observed before in the lab, but never in humans, and never at high altitude, the team reports this month in the Journal of Proteome Research. The scientists also found that the metabolic processes producing these changes were considerably more complex than suspected. And because red blood cells live for about 120 days, the changes last as long as the cells do.

That last finding tracks anecdotal evidence from veterans of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, who earned fame in Italy during World War II. Years ago, some of these veterans had told Roach that their bodies had seemed to retain adaptations from repeated trips to high elevation—a finding that tracks the experience of backpackers who return weekend after weekend to the high country.

Other scientists are impressed. D’Alessandro’s findings “should provide new insights into altitude adaptation,” says Peter Ratcliffe, a medical researcher at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom who studies how cells react to low oxygen in cancer, heart disease, stroke, and anemia. Low oxygen is also a problem when trauma—from car accidents to gunshot wounds—causes blood loss. Finding ways to kick the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity into high gear in such an emergency, D’Alessandro says, could save lives in both the civilian sector and on the battlefield.


Background

Have you ever heard of something being referred to as a "life blood?" Well that's because blood is responsible for keeping nearly all of our body's cells alive and growing! Our blood is made up of four main components: white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and plasma - each of which serve specific purposes. Before getting into the blood science, however, it is helpful to learn a bit about circulatory systems! Then, let's take this opportunity to learn a bit about the Cockroach too!

Humans have a closed circulatory system which delivers oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and other essentials throughout our body. As its name suggests, a "closed" system means that all of our blood flows through arteries, veins, and capillaries. This means that our blood isn't just sloshing around inside of us, instead, our heart is forcefully pumping blood throughout our blood vessels. When you suffer from broken blood vessels, such as a cut or scrape, this is called a hemorrhage. An important ability of our body's blood is its ability to clot, or to create a blockage that stops the blood from hemorrhaging, giving the body time to regenerate cells and heal the injury. You may also hear the circulatory system referred to as the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is just a more focused term, referring primarily to the heart (cardio) and blood vessels (vascular).

Now, to the blood! Remember, our blood is made up of four components: red and white blood cells, platelets, and plasma.

Red blood cells are responsible for keeping us alive! Our heart pumps our blood, our lungs oxygenate the red blood cells, and the red blood cells transfer the oxygen to cell tissues through a process called cellular respiration. Oxygen is important to us because it allows our cells to metabolize (transform) nutrients into energy that can fuel our body's movement and growth.

White blood cells are our body's defense system. They are our second line of defense against illness (the first being the external barriers like skin), destroying "pathogens" (disease causing material) that can damage us or make us sick. There are a variety of types of white blood cells in our body which specialize in targeting different kinds of pathogens. With different specializations comes different approaches to dispatching the pathogens. White blood cells can "eat" pathogens (they engulf the pathogen and then use enzymes to break it down), release antibodies to destroy them, or release antitoxins to combat the effects of certain pathogens.

Platelets are responsible for our blood's ability to clot. Platelets are tiny cells, about one fifth the diameter of a red blood cell. When you hemorrhage, they begin sticking together at the site of the damage until they have created a physical blockade, or a plug, preventing further blood from escaping. Then, once the damage has been healed up by the body, the clot is absorbed back into the body.

Plasma is the fluid that allows for the movement of cells throughout your circulatory system. It is mostly water, but also consists of proteins, sugars, electrolytes, and other essentials. Plasma makes up for a little more than 50% of your blood, making it the most plentiful component of your blood.

With our other experiments we have learned that cockroaches have a similar nervous system to humans, but does this hold true with the circulatory system? Unfortunately, for those of us who like to bask in the magnificence of cross-species similarities in nature, the cockroach, like all insects, does not have a circulatory system like ours. Instead, they have an open circulatory system, with body cavities full of hemolymph (the insect version of blood). You'll be happy to hear that cockroaches do have a heart and, relatively speaking again, it is even bigger than our own! The cockroach heart uses 13 chambers, compared to our four, to pump blood throughout the cockroach's body. Another important difference is that their hemolymph (blood) serves different functions, most notably, it is not responsible for carrying oxygen like ours is. Instead of oxygenating blood with their lungs and then dispersing it throughout the body like ours, cockroaches "breathe through their skin" in fact, they don't even have lungs! Instead, they have a system of tubes, called tracheae, that deliver oxygen throughout the body. The tracheae are oxygenated through special pores on the cockroach's skin. This is what allows us to anesthetize cockroaches for the SpikerBox and RoboRoach experiments in ice water - since they don't breath like we do, they can't drown by being submerged in water (they can, however, die if they are completely submerged and are unable to reoxygenate through their skin over an extended period of time). Hemolymph also is important for the cockroach's immune system because of cells called hemocytes. Like white blood cells, hemocytes are responsible for protecting the roach from pathogens.

For this experiment we will be sampling human and cockroach blood for viewing under the high powered attachment to the Roachscope.

Please note: these preps require the use of needles that are classified as "sharps" by the FDA (finger lancets and hypodermic needle syringes). These can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies. These needles are SHARP and you should exercise extreme care when working with them - never leave them sitting around without ther protective cover on. When you are ready to dispose of them, follow proper sharps disposal protocol. You may also be able to take your sharps in to a local clinic and ask if they can be disposed of there.


What is the Low Level of Hemoglobin (HGB)?

A protein called Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells. With this molecule, oxygen is carried to the different parts of the body from the lungs. Normally, in males, the level of Hemoglobin is between 13.8 and 17.2 gm/dl, and in females, it is between 12.1 and 15.1 gm/dl. However, in children, the level of Hemoglobin depends according to age and sex.

Well, to determine how low can Hemoglobin go before death is not an easy thing, because people have several diseases and each disease has distinctive side effects on the body. Usually, in the routine blood tests, the level of Hemoglobin can be seen. It confirms a low level of HGB in males if the result shows 13.5 gm/dl, whereas for females 12 gm/dl indicates the lower HGB level. Blood tests often show results below these values, but it does not mean that you are having any severe health issues. On the other hand, if the HGB shows extremely low figures, then it may be due to some serious underlying diseases. Usually, it is because anemia that shows an abnormal count of Hemoglobin.


Shortcut Discovered for Dendritic Cells

In its response to pathogens and vaccines, our immune system relies on dendritic cells. These white blood cells patrol the body’s tissues, collect components of pathogens and vaccines and transport them via lymphatic vessels to the nearest lymph node. There, they present the collected material to other immune cells in order to trigger an immune response.

How exactly dendritic cells get from the tissue into lymphatic vessels and from there to the lymph node is the focus of research conducted by Cornelia Halin, Professor of Pharmaceutical Immunology at ETH Zurich. For a long time, scientists assumed that dendritic cells choose the path of least resistance and migrate from the tissue into the smallest branches of the lymphatic vessels, the lymphatic capillaries. This is because, unlike other lymphatic vessels, capillaries are surrounded only by a thin, barely closed layer of cells, allowing dendritic cells to slip through the spaces between neighboring cells relatively easily.

However, this route is slow. While cells in blood vessels and in most other lymphatic vessels are carried along by a flow of fluid, virtually no flow is present in lymphatic capillaries. Consequently, cells in these capillary vessels need to actively move themselves forward, which only happens at an extremely low speed.

Faster despite obstacles

With her team, ETH Professor Halin has now discovered that dendritic cells can take a shortcut. In studies performed on mouse tissues and employing microscopy, the scientists were able to show that dendritic cells can also migrate directly into those lymphatic vessels into which the capillaries merge: the collecting lymphatics. These vessels are surrounded by a well-sealed layer of cells and a thicker membrane of connective tissue. Consequently, migration across these barriers is more difficult for dendritic cells, and entry takes longer than into capillaries. All in all, however, dendritic cells taking this path arrive in the lymph nodes much faster, since immediately after entry they are carried along by the lymph flow present in the collecting vessels and can bypass the slow active migration step in the capillaries.

Thinner barrier in case of inflammation

At present, it is not yet completely understood under which circumstances dendritic cells choose the known path via the capillaries and under which they take the newly discovered shortcut. As ETH Professor Halin and her colleagues have shown, the shortcut becomes available when there is an ongoing inflammatory response in the tissue. Specifically, the researchers were able to show that the connective tissue membrane surrounding the collecting lymphatics becomes degraded during inflammation, making it easier for dendritic cells to penetrate into the collectors.

It thus appears that an inflammatory response is the key factor that allows dendritic cells to take this shortcut and arrive more quickly in the lymph nodes. The scientists will now investigate whether all dendritic cells or only specific subtypes can travel via this route. In particular, they plan to explore the importance of the newly discovered pathway for the activation of the immune system and for installing immune responses. They suspect that the ability to sound the alarm in the lymph node more quickly may provide an advantage in fighting certain infections.

Reference: “Upregulation of VCAM-1 in lymphatic collectors supports dendritic cell entry and rapid migration to lymph nodes in inflammation” by Jorge Arasa, Victor Collado-Diaz, Ioannis Kritikos, Jessica Danielly Medina-Sanchez, Mona Carina Friess, Elena Caroline Sigmund, Philipp Schineis, Morgan Campbell Hunter, Carlotta Tacconi, Neil Paterson, Takashi Nagasawa, Friedemann Kiefer, Taija Makinen, Michael Detmar, Markus Moser, Tim Lämmermann and Cornelia Halin, 14 May 2021, Journal of Experimental Medicine.
DOI: 10.1084/jem.20201413