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Functions and Conditions of Bone Marrow

Written by Girish Khera on

The bones of the skeletal system play several key functions for the body, from providing the body support to allowing to move. They serve a vital role in fat storage and blood cell production as well.
    3D Medical Animation still of Bone marrow

      Bone marrow is the viscous or sponge-like tissue that fills the inside of the bones. They are of two types:
      • Red bone marrow which aid in producing blood cells
      • Yellow bone marrow which aid storing fat.

      Functions of red bone marrow

      Red bone marrow is involved in the production of blood cells, namely hematopoiesis. Hematopoietic stem cells, which are present in the red bone marrow can develop into a variety of blood cells, including:
      • Red blood cells: They work to carry oxygen-rich blood to the body cells. Old red blood cells can be broken down in red bone marrow as well, however this activity is mostly carried out in the spleen and liver.
      • Platelets: They help in the blood clot and prevent uncontrolled bleeding.
      • White blood cells: These are of various types and they work to help the body in fighting the infections.

        Functions of yellow bone marrow

        Yellow bone marrow is involved in the fat storage. The fats in yellow bone marrow are stored in the cells known as adipocytes. This fat can be used as a source of energy as needed.
          They also contain mesenchymal stem cells. They can develop into the bone, cartilage, fat, or muscle cells.
            Over time, yellow bone marrow starts to replace the red bone marrow. As a result, many of the bones in an adult human body has yellow bone marrow.

            Conditions involve bone marrow

              Bone marrow is very important for producing the blood cells. Therefore, various blood-related conditions involve problems with the bone marrow.
                Several of these conditions affect the numbers of blood cells formed in the bone marrow. This results them to share various common symptoms, including:
                • Fever. This happens because of not having enough quantity of healthy white blood cells.
                • Fatigue or weakness. This is due to lack of hemoglobin, the protein on red blood cells that carries oxygen.
                • Increased infections. This is a result of having fewer healthy white blood cells that assist in fighting infections.
                • Shortness of breath. A low red blood cell count can cause less oxygen being delivered to the body tissues.
                • Easy bleeding and bruising. This happens because of having fewer healthy platelets, which are key for helping the blood to clot.
                Some more specific conditions involving bone marrow problems:
                • Leukemia It is a type of cancer that may affect both the bone marrow and lymphatic system. It occurs when the blood cells get mutations in their DNA. This results them to grow and divide faster than the healthy blood cells. These cells begin to dominate the healthy cells in the bone marrow, over time.
                  • Some of the most common types of leukemia include:
                    • Acute lymphocytic leukemia
                    • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
                    • Acute myelogenous leukemia
                    • Chronic myelogenous leukemia
                  • Aplastic anemia It occurs when bone marrow doesn’t form enough new blood cells. It happens from damage to the stem cells of bone marrow, which makes it difficult for them to grow and form into new blood cells. This damage can be either:
                    • Inherited
                    • Acquired
                  • Myeloproliferative disorders It occurs when the stem cells in the bone marrow have abnormal growth. This may lead to increased numbers of a specific type of blood cell.
                    • There are many types of myeloproliferative disorders, including:
                      • Primary myelofibrosis
                      • Polycythemia vera
                      • Essential thrombocythemia
                      • Hypereosinophilic syndrome
                      • Systemic mastocytosis
                      Disclaimer: The information in no way constitutes, or should be construed as medical advice. Nor is the above article an endorsement of any research findings discussed in the article an endorsement for any of the source publications.



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                      Test what you learned
                      1. Longest bone in the human body?
                      2. Smallest bone in the human body?
                      3. Bone between the scapula and the sternum?
                      4. Identify the highlighted skull bone?
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