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Difference Between RBC and WBC

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Introduction

Both red blood cells and white blood cells play an essential role in the human body. Red blood cells or RBC carry oxygen to the tissues in different parts of the body. White blood cells or WBC strengthen the defense mechanism of the body by generating antibodies. The primary difference between RBC and WBC lies in their functionality. While RBCs act as carriers, WBC act as creators. The experts at Vedantu have summarized the difference between red blood cells and white blood cells in a comprehensive manner.


Red Blood Cells (RBC)

As the name suggests, RBC is red because of the presence of hemoglobin which is an iron-rich protein and binds with oxygen to get the red color. RBC gives a red color to the blood because of its presence in the blood in a large number. Also known as Erythrocytes, red blood cells are round, small, and bi-concaved in shape but due to their flexibility, they appear bell-shaped when passing through small vessels. They carry oxygen to the tissue in the body. To maintain a healthy RBC count in the body, it is essential to take an iron and vitamin-rich diet. A low RBC count causes anemia and its common symptoms are irregular heartbeat, pale skin, feeling cold, fatigue, and joint pain.


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The primary function of Red Blood Cells is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissue in different parts of the body, using the blood circulation system. They also carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs from where they are excreted out of the body. Since the RBC has a bi-concave shape it helps in the exchange of oxygen at a constant rate and over a large surface area.


White Blood Cells (WBC)

White Blood Cells are colorless due to the absence of hemoglobin in them. Also known as Leukocytes, white blood cells protect the body from any infections by producing antibodies that build up the defense system of the body against germs and infections. One of the other important factors that help us to differentiate between RBC and WBC is the circulation system used by these cells. WBC uses cardiovascular circulation and is also present in the lymphatic system. Red blood cells use only the cardiovascular circulatory system. Invading bacteria, viruses, and germs are attacked by these cells, which aid in the fight against infection.


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Although white blood cells begin in the bone marrow, they circulate throughout the body. There are five different types of white blood cells:

  • Neutrophils

  • Lymphocytes

  • Eosinophils

  • Monocytes

  • Basophils


The primary function of white blood cells is to produce antibodies in the body and to strengthen immunity of the body. A good defense mechanism protects the body from any germ attacks or infections. WBC protects the body by digesting the foreign material and cancer cells present in the body by producing antibodies.


Let’s look at the difference between red blood cells and white blood cells in detail.


Difference Between Red Blood Cells and White Blood Cells

Criteria

RBC

WBC

Scientific name 

RBC is scientifically called Erythrocytes.

WBC is called Leukocytes.

Appearance

RBCs are anucleated, bi-concave, and disc-shaped.

WBC are nucleated and irregular in shape.

Size

The size of RBC is roughly 6-8 microns.

The size of WBC is 15 microns.

Production location

RBC is produced in the red bone marrow.

WBC is produced in the spleen, lymph nodes, etc.

Production number

Almost 2 million RBC are produced in the body per second.

WBC are produced in a comparatively lower number than the RBC.

Formation process 

The process of RBC formation is called Erythropoiesis.

The process of WBC formation in the body is called leucopoiesis.

Motility

Red Blood Cells are non-motile.

White blood cells are motile

Percentage in blood

RBC accounts for 36%-50% of the blood in the body. This percentage, however, differs according to the height, weight, and age of the person.

In comparison, WBC constitutes a meager 1% of the blood.

Types

Red blood cells are only of one type.

White blood cells are of multiple types. T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes (plasma cells), monocytes (macrophages), neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils are some of the types of WBC.

Life span

RBC can survive up to 120 days in the body.

WBC can survive anywhere between several days to even several years in the body.

Constitution

RBC is made up of only hemoglobin.

WBC is made up of antibodies with MHC antigen cell markers.

Colour 

The presence of hemoglobin lends a red color to the RBC. It is the reason they are called red blood cells.

The absence of hemoglobin makes WBC colorless.


Function

The primary function of the RBC is to carry oxygen to the various parts of the body. As a secondary function, they also carry waste materials and carbon dioxide to the lungs.

The primary function of WBC is to produce antibodies to strengthen the defense mechanism of the body. These antibodies protect the body from any attack by germs and provide immunity against infections. Some of them are also phagocytic.

Circulation

The circulation system used is the cardiovascular system that is related to the blood vessels and the heart.

The circulation systems used are cardiovascular as well as lymphatic. 

Low count effect

A low RBC count in the body can lead to anemia which can affect the body’s ability to carry and supply oxygen to the tissues.

A low WBC count can lead to leukopenia that can hamper the immune system of the body.

High count effect

A high RBC count is produced in the body during exercise or at high altitudes.

A high WBC count is an indication of infection present in the body or of a lower response rate of the bone marrow. Such a condition is called Leukocytosis.

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FAQs on Difference Between RBC and WBC

1. What is the Primary Function of the Red Blood Cells (RBC)?

The primary function of Red Blood Cells is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissue in different parts of the body, using the blood circulation system. They also carry back carbon dioxide and other waste material to the lungs from where they are excreted out of the body. Since the RBC have a bi-concave shape it helps in the exchange of oxygen at a constant rate and over a large surface area.

2. What is the Primary Function of the White Blood Cells (WBC)?

The primary function of white blood cells is to produce antibodies in the body and to strengthen the immunity of the body. A good defence mechanism protects the body from any germ attacks or infections. WBC protect the body by digesting the foreign material and cancer cells present in the body by producing antibodies.

3. What are the Diseases and Their Symptoms that Occur in Case of a Low or High White Blood Cell Count in the Body?

A decline in the WBC count makes the body prone to several infections. A high or low white blood cell count in the body can cause diseases like a weak immune system, myelodysplastic syndrome, cancer, myeloproliferative disorder Some of the common symptoms of low WBC count include physical or emotional stress and inflammation among others.

4. Is leukemia curable?

Leukemia is a malignancy of the blood that affects the bone marrow and blood cells. As with other types of cancer, there is currently no cure for leukemia. After diagnosis and therapy, people with leukemia may go into remission, a state in which the cancer is no longer detectable in the body.

5. What causes red blood cells to die?

An autoimmune condition in which the immune system misidentifies and destroys your own red blood cells as foreign things might cause red blood cell destruction. Within the red cells, there are genetic flaws (such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and G6PD deficiency)