What are two functions of Red Blood Cells?
The primary functions of the Erythrocyte or Red Blood Cell are the carrying of oxygen to the cells and of carbon dioxide away from the cells.
Erythrocytes (RBCs) are the cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body for metabolic activities and, consequently, carry carbon dioxide (one of the waste products of metabolism) from the cells to the lungs where it is exhaled. It does this by the molecule haemoglobin in the cell which is an iron-containing molecule and binds to oxygen to form oxyhaemoglobin. The carbon dioxide produces at the cellular level of metabolism diffuses into the plasma and the erythrocyte and is carried back to the lungs for release.
Erythrocytes help in this process by releasing the enzyme carbonic anhydrase that allows the water in the blood plasma to carry carbon dioxide to the lungs.
In addition, erythrocytes help control the pH of the blood by acting as an acid-base buffer.