Red vs White blood cells | Differences and Similarities

Blood cells are part of liquid connective tissue.

These cells are freely moving and have an important function in the body.

As you might have known, there are 3 types of cells in the blood like

  1. Red blood cells
  2. White blood cells
  3. Platelets.

Of the three, red blood cells and white blood cells carry important critical functions in the body.

The number of cells of these types is also quite high.

Red Vs. White blood cells

Red blood cells are also called as corpuscles because of their shape. Further, unlike typical body cells, they lack a nucleus and other cell organelles.

White blood cells are typical animal cells and have all the regular cell organelles.

The key differences among red blood cells vs. white blood cells relate to

  1. Functions
  2. Structures
  3. Numbers or concentration in blood
  4. Types
  5. Diseases

Functional differences:

Red blood cells are involved in the distribution of oxygen. They transport oxygen from the lungs to all the tissues and cells of the body.
Further, they also help to carry carbon-dioxide from tissues and cells back to the lungs. Thus red blood cells are involved in gaseous exchange in the body. Enzyme acetylcholinesterase is present on the membranes of RBC.

Red vs White blood cells
Image credit: The Franklin Institute

White blood cells have a different role in the body. They help in protecting the body from infections and also assist in body repair. They act as a body defense system and keep it healthy. They recognize the foreign cells and destroy them. They produce antibodies against the foreign antigens and neutralize them. Further, the neutrophils and macrophages eat and kill the harmful microorganisms in the blood and tissues. Lysosomal enzymes are present in the WBC cells which help autophagy and foreign cell destruction.

Anatomical and Structures differences:

Red vs White blood cells- different types of cells

Red cells are disc-shaped with biconcave surfaces. Whereas white cells are polymorphic (multi-shaped). Further, red cells lack nucleus while white cells are multi-nucleated. Red cells are very small in size while white cells are large.

Numbers or concentration in blood:

Red cells are quite very high in concentration or number. Due to their high concentration, the blood is red. White cells are comparatively low in number. But, when their level increases in blood cancer, the condition is called leukemia (Leuk = white; aemia= blood).

Types and variation among the cells:

Red cells are of only one particular type. Whereas the white blood cells are of 5 types as acidophils, basophils, neutrophils, lymphocytes and monocytes.

Diseases and disorders:

Both red and white cells can be the cause of diseases. A decrease in red cells is called anemia. While there is no effect of an increase in red cell count.

On the other hand, white cells have a disorder with both increase and decreased cell count. Increase in white cells is termed as leukemia or leukophilia while their decrease is termed as leukocytopenia or leukopenia.

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