Concise Review: How are Red Blood Cells Born, How do they Live and Die?

Review Article

Ann Hematol Oncol. 2021; 8(7): 1353.

Concise Review: How are Red Blood Cells Born, How do they Live and Die?

Vives Corrons J-L¹*, Casafont LB² and Frasnedo EF³

1Emeritus Professor, Red Blood Cell Pathology and Hematopoietic Disorders (Rare Anaemias Unit), Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain

2Professor (ret.), Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

3Emeritus Professor, Josep Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation, Barcelona, Spain

*Corresponding author: Joan-Lluis Vives Corrons, Institute for Leukaemia Research, Josep Carreras Ctra de Can Ruti, Camí de les Escoles s/n 08916 Badalona, Barcelona, Spain

Received: April 05, 2021; Accepted: May 20, 2021; Published: May 27, 2021


The average life cycle of a human RBC is approximately 120 days. Generally, by this point, the cell is worn out and damaged. RBCs pass through both the spleen and liver, where specialized immune cells called macrophages are found. Macrophages recognize when an RBC is spent, and undergo a process called phagocytosis where they digest the cell. In this process, the iron in hemoglobin is recycled for use in new blood cells and the hem molecule is degraded, conjugated to bilirubin, and eliminated from the body. All the other cellular proteins are either recycled or eliminated. Historically, this process was thought to occur exclusively in the spleen, but recent studies have shown that it occurs in the bone marrow .The RBC has been analyzed from many perspectives: cytological, hematological, and immunological, as well as from the focus of molecular biology, biophysics, and mathematics. Here we analyze how are red blood cells born and how they live and die in a brief overview of the whole process with special mention of the morphological aspects from bone marrow and spleen provided by Transmission and Scanning Electron Microscopy.

Keywords: Erythrocytes; Aging; Deformability; Rheology; Electron microscopy


The blood and its components are one of the best investigated biological fluids due to its accessibility. Blood is the internal fluid that delivers oxygen and various metabolic substances to the cells of organs and systems in the human body, while collecting products from the cellular metabolism, and particularly carbon dioxide. It also serves as a communication fluid providing defense against outside incomes on our organism. Blood is formed by plasma and cells: the Red Blood Cells (RBCs) or erythrocytes; the White Blood Cells (WBCs) or leukocytes and the platelets or thrombocytes (Figure 1a). Humans have about 4.5 to 5 liters [1] of blood in their circulatory system, and the normal concentrations of blood cells are RBCs: 4.5 to 5.9x1012/l, WBCs: 4 to 11x109/l, and platelets: 150-350x109/l. The Red Blood Cell (RBC) has been analyzed from many different perspectives: cytological and morphological (optical microscopy and or without phase contrast, transmission and scanning electronic microscopy, immunological analysis, molecular and genetic analysis, rheological and physicochemical studies, and mathematics. The combination of all these perspectives, with holistic visions, always represents an advance in the amalgamation of a unique reality as seen from diverse facets.