If man is viewed as a multicellular organism, the human subject finds his objective existence because of the living functions of the cells, tissues, and organ systems that provide the biological basis for that existence. In multicellular eukaryotes, cells with the same genes must differentiate into many types. Multicellularity is accomplished by definite capabilities for differentiation. The functional differentiation is not a simple process that can be called adaptation. To achieve differentiation, complex control mechanisms determine which genes are active in a given cell at a given time. The “Design” of cells has been modified by a predetermined plan to serve the specialized function of tissues and organs. The structural differentiation and the functional organization of various organ systems makes man a very complex living organism. It must be clearly understood that the living cell is a thermodynamically unstable system. This means that without a continuous input of energy, a cell will degrade spontaneously into a nonliving collection of molecules. The cells that comprise the human organism derive their energy by oxidation of food substances such as glucose. The cells of the body require oxygen to obtain the energy stored in food substances. The loss of oxygen is very critical as there is no means of storing oxygen in the human body. During the entire course of human life, the human body requires continuous delivery of oxygen to its various cells, tissues, and organs. The Red Blood Cells display functional subordination to the requirements of the organism as a Whole. Altruism is a theory of conduct that regards the good of others as the end of moral action. The Red Blood Cells have very short, individual lifespans and the entire period of their existence involves unselfish concern for the welfare of other cells.
THE RED BLOOD CELL-ERYTHROCYTE-THE RED CORPUSCLE:
Red Blood Cells, or Erythrocytes, or Red Corpuscles are tiny, flat, round, biconcave disks, with depressed center, averaging 7.5 microns in diameter. In its profile view, the Red Blood Cell appears dumbell-shaped. A normal man has about 5 liters of blood containing more than 25 trillion Red Blood Cells. There are about 5.2 million Red Blood Cells per cubic millimeter of blood in adult humans. The normal lifespan of Red Cells is only about 100 to 120 days. More than 200 billion Red Cells are normally destroyed each day by the spleen and must be replaced. The creation of new Red Cells and their subsequent destruction proceeds during all the days of human life. The Red Cells give the blood its characteristic color. The cell is flexible and can change its shape to pass through extremely small blood vessels. It is covered with a membrane composed of lipids and proteins. The mature Red Blood Cells lacks a nucleus and hence cannot divide into new daughter cells. The mature Red Blood Cell also lacks intracellular organelles called mitochondria which provide energy for metabolic functions. During the course of its development and maturation, the nucleus and mitochondria disappear from the Red Cell. The amount of oxygen required by the Red Cell for its own metabolism is very low. The Red Cell shows the features of a careful design or plan that makes it to perform its function of delivering oxygen with great efficiency. In invertebrate organisms, the oxygen-carrying pigment called Heme is found in a free state in the plasma for they lack the Red Blood Cells. The concentration of Heme pigment and the biconcave shape of the Red Blood Cell makes it very efficient to perform the function of exchange of gases; the Red Cell can deliver almost all of its oxygen it carries and free it into the tissues where there is demand for oxygen and its shape allows oxygen exchange at a constant rate over the largest possible area.
The main function of the Red Cells is to transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and organs of the entire human body. During the process of oxidation, the cells generate carbon dioxide as a waste product which must be removed. The Red Cells carry carbon dioxide to the lungs and release it to be returned to the atmospheric air. This is possible because of hemoglobin which forms unstable, reversible bond with oxygen; in the oxygenated state it is called Oxyhemoglobin and is bright red in color. When oxygen is delivered, in the reduced state the hemoglobin is purple-blue and this color can be easily noticed from the color of the veins that return blood to heart from various parts of the body. Asphyxiation occurs when the blood contains an excess of substances like carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide with which hemoglobin forms semipermanent or permanent compounds instead of reversible bonds that hemoglobin forms with oxygen.
HEME PIGMENT AND HEMOGLOBIN – THE MAGIC OF CREATION:
Adult hemoglobin is an alpha(2):beta(2) tetrameric hemeprotein; a combination of heme and the protein component called globin. Each subunit of a hemoglobin tetramer has a heme prosthetic group. The variations in amino acid composition impart marked differences in hemoglobin’s oxygen carrying properties. The quaternary structure of hemoglobin leads to physiologically important allosteric interactions between the subunits. Oxygen is incrementally loaded into the four subunits. In deoxygenated tissue, oxygen is incrementally unloaded from the four subunits and the affinity of hemoglobin for oxygen is reduced. Thus at the lowest oxygen tensions found in very active tissues, the bonding affinity of hemoglobin for oxygen is very low allowing maximal delivery of oxygen to the tissues. To maintain the status called good and positive health, the cells, tissues, and organs of the multicellular human organism have to be interacting with each other in a harmonious manner. These interactions during normal, good health display characteristics such as mutual assistance, mutual cooperation, mutual tolerance, and mutual functional subordination to provide a benefit to the human individual who lives because of the functions of the cells, tissues, and organs that comprise his human body.
SPIRITUAL BIOTIC INTERACTIONS – THE ROLE OF RED BLOOD CELLS:
The terrestrial human organism represents a biotic, or biological community of about 100 trillion, individual, independent, mostly autonomous living cells that participate in constant interactions with each other. These interactions at cellular level are dependent upon the cognitive nature of the living cell. The living cell has the ability to recognize the presence of other cells in its immediate, external environment. The life of all of the cells in this biotic community that forms the human body requires energy input from an external source. The term “Spiritual” describes a relationship, a partnership, an association, a bonding, or a connection between two living entities that can formulate an interaction that can display features such as assistance, cooperation, tolerance, subservience, subordination, sympathy, and compassion to provide some benefit to the partner that is participating in the biotic interaction. The Red Blood Cells interact with the cells of tissues, and organs of human body to provide them a service, assistance, or a benefit without seeking any benefit in return. The Red Blood Cells do not seek to reproduce, have very minimal requirement for energy and willingly deliver oxygen to the tissues and relieve them from the burden imposed by the waste products of their metabolic activities. The ‘spiritual’ nature of such interaction is a reflection of the ‘spiritual’ nature of the Creator of the living entities who could be called the WholeArtist, the WholeDesigner, or the WholeArchitect who meticulously planned and instituted the mechanisms and provided the necessary tools for such varied interdependent, and interrelated interactions between living cells. Thus, the Red Blood Cells constitute the principal stabilizing, connective linkage among the trillions of living cells that comprise the biological community which gets recognized as the human being.
Rudra Narasimham Rebbapragada
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