Leeuwenhoek had stolen and peeped into the fantastic sub-visible world of little things, creatures that had lived, had bred, had battled, had died, completely hidden from and unknown to all men from the beginning of time. Beasts these were of a kind that ravaged and annihilated whole races of men ten million times larger than they were themselves. Beings these were, more terrible than fire-spitting dragons or hydra-headed monsters. They were silent assassins that murdered babies in warm cradles and kings in sheltered places. It was this invisible, insignificant, but implacable-and sometimes friendly- world Leeuwenhoek had looked into for the first time of all men of all countries. ~Microbe Hunters

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Hemoglobin

H is for Hemoglobin. 
You have approximately 5L of blood in your body at any given time. Blood circulates through your arteries and veins and back to your heart supplying oxygen to tissues and removing the carbon dioxide produced from cellular metabolism. A normal blood cell lasts approximately 120 days in circulation before it is taken out of circulation by the spleen (or lymph nodes or liver if you have had a splenectomy). Hemoglobin is the key protein in blood that allows the transport of oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be expelled.  There are a variety of different hemoglobins produced in your body at different times. For example, a fetus will possess an increase in hemoglobin F which has a higher affinity for oxygen than hemoglobin A found in adults.  The fetus’ higher affinity to oxygen means that the oxygen circulating in the mother’s blood joined to the hemoglobin A can be easily removed and transferred to the fetus without blood being transferred to oxygenate the fetus. As soon as the fetus is born, in normal circumstances, the baby will start to replace the hemoglobin F with A.

There are over 400 different abnormal hemoglobin things, called hemoglobinopathies. A commonly known one is sickle cell disease, in which blood cells are abnormally shaped like sickles as opposed to biconcave disks. An advantage of sickle cell disease and sickle cell carriers is that it prevents the infection of malaria in a person.  The mechanism behind this is not really well explained yet, but it describes the reason sickle cell inheritance is predominantly in areas in which the exposure to malaria is also high. It is beneficial if a person inherits one gene from one parent (heterozygous) for sickle cells, causing no clinical impact to the patient, except the benefit of evading malaria. If someone inherits 2 genes, one from both parent (homozygous) for the hemoglobinopathy, then the clinical impact is greater, and the risks involved with living with such an illness in a country with scarce health care could outweigh the benefits of malaria resistance. 

Anyways, that's H.


Darn good and sure of it,

adot

6 comments:

  1. I didn't know about sickle cell and malaria. I really wish I had done more science as this kind of knowledge could be really useful for writing fiction.
    Thanks for sharing it. :-)

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    1. I never realized knowledge on science would be beneficial to fiction writing!

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  2. This is very interesting, but I almost felt like I smelled alcohol! Glad there are people like you who love to do this and make it good for everyone!

    KaTy Did at: Life's Ride As I See It

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    1. I'm not really sure I understand the alcohol bit, but I'm glad you stopped in!

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  3. What a great theme! I will become a lot smarter by reading your blog, for sure! Thanks for enlightening us with your medical knowledge :)

    A to Z Challenge Blogger www.katkatravels.com

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