Gersh, Isidore Department of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Cleve, Hartwig Institute for Anthropology and Human Genetics, University of Munich, Munich, Germany.
Ratnoff, Oscar D. Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Case Western Research University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Last reviewed:October 2016
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- Formed elements
- Blood coagulation
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A fluid connective tissue that circulates in the vascular system (blood vessels) of the body. Blood circulates through the body via vascular blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries). Blood consists of plasma (the fluid component) and cells floating (suspended) within it (Fig. 1). The chief components of plasma are proteins (albumin and globulins), anions (mainly chloride and bicarbonate), and cations (mainly sodium, with smaller concentrations of potassium, calcium, and magnesium). The cells are derived from extravascular sites and then enter the circulatory system. They frequently leave the blood vessels to enter the extravascular spaces, where some of them may be transformed into connective tissue cells. The fluid part of the blood is in equilibrium with the tissue fluids of the body. The circulating blood carries nutrients and oxygen to the body cells; therefore, it is an important means of maintaining the homeostasis of the body. In addition, blood carries hormones from their sites of origin throughout the body, and is thus the transmitter of the chemical integrators of the body. Blood plasma also circulates immune bodies and contains several of the components essential for the formation of blood clots. Finally, blood transports waste products to excretory organs for elimination from the body. Because of its basic composition (cells surrounded by a matrix), development, and ability to modify into other forms of connective tissues, blood can be regarded as a special form of connective tissue. See also: Blood vessels; Circulation; Connective tissue; Homeostasis; Immunology
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