There are a lot of strange activities happening inside our body. We are aware that it consists of different parts and they all work together to function correctly. Just like many individual elements that travel our body systems, the blood is one of them that promotes a lot of health benefits when we take care of it properly.
We can say that the blood is liquid. But do you know that it is made up of liquid and solid particles, too? All of these elements help each other to ensure that the blood can do its primary function on or body. The solid portion consists of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Its liquid part has one essential component which is called plasma.
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What is plasma?
Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood. It is a Greek word which means formed. Although the blood looks red, the plasma still appears yellowish. It is made up of essential elements like 7% dissolved proteins, 1% salt, and 95% water. It covers about 55% of the blood and has a significant contribution when it comes to our health condition. Without it, the blood’s solid components cannot travel smoothly all throughout our body systems. It is responsible for bringing these particles going to the designated organs.
The plasma has other vital components aside from the various elements that were already mentioned. It contains electrolytes like potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride. The function of the muscles and nerves in our body are dependent on these electrolytes. These minerals came from the foods we eat.
As you can see, the plasma consists of countless elements that work together so the blood can perform its function well. Just imagine if one of these components are missing. Each of them plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy. They have unique functionality that we should learn so we will know their benefits. Understanding how each work will give us thousands of reasons to take care of this essential part of our body.
The function of plasma
The plasma transports various elements all over the body. May they be hormones, proteins, or even nutrients, they need this blood’s crucial component so they can be distributed on the body systems. It has a substantial contribution to the activities of our circulatory system. It also serves as the storage of the waste materials coming from the cellular metabolism. It will then excrete these deposits out of the body through the lungs, liver, and kidneys.
The plasma is also responsible for maintaining the proper level of blood pressure. It aids in the appropriate distribution of heat to stabilize the homeostasis, or the ability of the human body to maintain its temperature to adapt to the condition of the surroundings.
It also contains clotting factors that are essential components to clot blood or control severe bleeding. Without them, the person may suffer from blood illnesses, and one of them is the hereditary disease called hemophilia. We have fibrinogen circulating through our blood. As soon as the blood clotting occurs, the fibrinogen then becomes fibrin. It then stabilizes the blood clot to control the abnormal during the process.
Due to the abundance of proteins found in plasma, it helps stabilizes the osmotic pressure in our blood vessels. Albumin is one of the essential proteins that plasma contains. It aids in the repair of damaged tissues. It has a significant contribution in regulating the pressure of the blood. Let’s say for example the plasma does not contain an adequate amount of albumin. If it happens, the water could transfer into the blood, causing its volume to increase.
Furthermore, it also contributes to the transportation of various substances like hormones, so they are distributed to the designated organs of the body. It can even bring the electrolytes all throughout the body. Some examples of electrolytes or salts are chloride, magnesium, sodium, bicarbonate, and sodium. All of these minerals allows the nerves to send signals to the brain so that the body can perform its activities.
Aside from these components, don’t also forget that the plasma also has “complement.” It is a compound that regulates our immune system to fight various infectious elements that cause diseases.
Another significant function of plasma in the human body is its ability to carry the nutrients going to their designated system. They came from the food we eat and are digested in the stomach. Once they are broken down, they become certain elements that supply energy to the body. They can be amino acids which serve as the building blocks of the minerals called protein. Some of them may consist of fats and fatty acids, too. They are utilized by the organs as soon as they reach the cells and tissues.
The plasma can also transport the waste products and excrete them in the form of urine. Our body needs to eliminate the ammonium salts, uric acid, and creatinine. Without plasma, these harmful agents will stay in the cells and can result in various diseases.
Our body is prone to foreign agents that can be risky to our health. Bacteria is one example of those invaders. However, the body can fight these substances through the protein found in plasma which is called immunoglobulins or popularly known as antibodies.
Plasma’s role in the treatment of many diseases
Aside from its primary contribution to the transportation of solid particles in the body, do you know that the plasma is also used to treat certain kinds of diseases? Aside from the components we have mentioned, it also includes various compounds that can be isolated by the practitioners and use them to save other people’s lives. These magical ways and maximum benefits are the reasons why it is also called “the gift of life.”
Plasma has over 700 proteins and compound in it, and these elements can be formulated to make medical products. It contains fibrinogen, albumin, and antibodies called immunoglobulins. The health professionals can break them down to create a pharmaceutical product that can be used to treat various sickness.
As an example, the antibodies and protein found in plasma can have a therapeutic effect on patients suffering from hemophilia, a health condition that makes the patient bleed heavily even when wounded slightly. Plasma can be separated from the cellular components to be kept frozen within one day of being donated and can be stored for one year. It can then be used for medical transfusions and serve as therapy.
Diseases caused by the disorder of plasma
Due to some reasons, plasma could also suffer from various ailments. It is a normal process when it multiplies repeatedly. The reproduction or cloning is its way to produce that protect us from infectious diseases. Each cell should only create one type of antibody. However, if one plasma cell divides excessively, it can produce more than one antibody, which is called M-protein.
In some cases, the reproduction is not entirely developed. As a result, the individual becomes prone to infections. So, instead of protecting the body, the abnormal plasma cells will instead damage the tissues. They can even destroy some organs like bones and kidneys. These plasma problems could be difficult to handle, but they can happen in a rare situation.
- Multiple myeloma
The Multiple myeloma is a cancerous disease that attacks the plasma cell. Since the plasma resides in the bone marrow, this disorder can damage this portion. The plasma can still produce antibodies to fight these cancer cells, but the body can’t use them because the abnormal proteins dominate it.
It can also lead to a dreadful situation because its symptoms do not show up in the early stage of the disease. Anyone who suffers from multiple myeloma can experience constipation, fatigue, bone pain, loss of appetite, and numbness.
- Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
MGUS is a plasma disorder in which the blood contains the abnormal protein called paraprotein. In this condition, the number of abnormal cells is higher than the plasma cells. The patient may not experience symptoms when this health problem occurs. Some people may feel numbness in their body, as well as rashes or tingling. It can only be detected when the patient undergoes a blood test.
Contributions of plasma in the therapy and medication
Donating plasma is similar to giving blood. A specialized machine is used to collect only the plasma cells. It separates the cells from other components of the blood such as red blood cells and platelets. They are returned to the body together with a salt or saline solution. It is a number one requirement that only donors who have type AB plasma can donate because it can be given to patients with any blood type. Although it is a universal type, there is only 4% of the world population who have this blood type.
The biochemist named Edwin Cohn was the pioneer in developing the method of plasma medication. He discovered it during the World War II, and he called it fractionation. That process allows him to separate the protein albumin from the blood. Through it, he was able to develop a therapy that saved the lives of wounded victims during the war.
In 1940, Charles Drew was also able to develop the method of preserving plasma for transfusion purposes. One of the crucial processes he did is to dry that substance and use it to people who were wounded due to the battle.
Currently, the blood banks utilize the wonders of technology to craft machines that can filter the plasma and separate it from the blood. Before a product is fully developed, it needs to undergo several stages such as chemical inactivation, filtration, and other processes that can separate the liquid from solid components.
There are several purposes of donating plasma. The protein it contains can be used as a therapy for various diseases. It is completely different from the drugs we can commonly buy because it is formulated through the proteins that came from the human body.
It can also be injected into pregnant women when the RH sensitization occurs. It is a condition where the individual experiences being an RH-negative. The red blood cells should have RH factor to prevent the antibodies from destroying the immune system. It can also prevent the mother’s blood from mixing with her baby’s blood. It is also used to protect the baby from being anemic which can also lead to jaundice.
A plasma can also be used to treat the patients suffering from infectious diseases. Even those who undergo an organ transplant can also receive a plasma therapy. It is also widely used to treat liver conditions, tetanus, and cirrhosis.
Because the plasma has a significant component of useful minerals and proteins, it can be used as an effective therapy for trauma patients. It can also treat clotting problems, hemophilia, and genetic bleeding. It is also helpful for patients who undergo bone marrow transplants as well as burn patients.
Since it can treat various types of diseases, the blood banks need more plasma donors. A single plasma protein therapy requires a large volume of plasma. It takes about 1,200 donations in order to create one formulation of treatment for a patient with hemophilia. It also has a lot of processes to produce one plasma product. It must undergo several screenings to make sure that it does not contain infectious substances.
After looking at these wonder that plasma can provide to humans, it is therefore essential to take care of your body. No wonder plasma is a life-saving substance that helps a lot of people. Thankfully, the technology has provided an excellent and effective way to promote its benefits.
There’s nothing to worry if you are planning to donate plasma. The blood banks take proper measures to ensure that the donor is safe when the process is done. If you are sure that you are healthy, you may donate twice a week if you aim to help a lot of patients. That’s another good thing that plasma can do. It allows you to save lives!