Difference Between Erythrocytes and Leukocytes

Blood is a tissue in liquid form that runs through the body, transporting the nutrients necessary for life through blood vessels. It has different components such as red blood cells that are responsible for transporting oxygen, white blood cells that are responsible for the body’s defenses and platelets that are responsible for blood coagulation.

Despite this, within the red and white blood cells there are various components, including granulocytes, macrophages, lymphocytes, red blood cells and erythrocytes, each with different and specific functions. Since we often do not know the exact function of each of them, we will present the definition of erythrocytes and leukocytes and then show the differences that exist between them.


Erythrocytes are cells that transport oxygen to all parts of the body and that together with red blood cells are part of red blood cells. Its main function is to absorb oxygen from the lungs (in the case of fish, they absorb it from the gills) and release it in the tissues.

Also, erythrocytes contain hemoglobin, an iron-containing biomolecule that can bind oxygen. This is responsible for the red color of cells and its composition is as follows: proteins and lipids in the cell membrane and hemoglobin in the cytoplasm.

On the other hand, in adult humans, approximately 2.4 million new erythrocytes are produced per second. These develop in the bone marrow, immature erythrocytes (also called reticulocytes) represent 2% of the total red blood cells in the blood and mature erythrocytes make up almost half of the blood volume, so they are approximately a fourth part of the cells of the human body.

Red blood cells circulate for about 100-120 days in the body before their components are recycled by macrophages. Also, the number of erythrocytes in humans differs according to age, sex, and even geography. This is because, in high and cold areas, for example, the human brain requires more oxygen, so your blood produces more red blood cells. Finally, another of the most outstanding characteristics of erythrocytes is their biconcave disc shape, that is, with two concavities, which distinguishes them from other blood components.


Leukocytes, also known as white blood cells , are an important component of the blood and a key part of the body’s immune system. There are five different types of leukocytes, each with specific functions. These can be divided into two main types: granulocytes and agranulocytes .

In the same vein, granulocytes are responsible for fighting bacteria, fungi and other invaders in the body. Granulocytes can be further divided into three types: eosinophils, neutrophils, and basophils. On the other hand, agranulocytes can be divided into lymphocytes and monocytes and their function is the production of antibodies necessary to counteract and nullify the effects of invading organisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi.

On the other hand, leukocytes are produced in the bone marrow, mature in the lymph nodes, the spleen or the thymus (gland of the lymphatic system). Their lifespan varies from about four to thirty days. Normally, people produce about 100 billion white blood cells a day. Finally, the leukocytes have a varied shape and while they circulate in the blood they have a rounded shape and can be elongated and transformed when they pass through the blood vessels.

Taking into account what was previously stated, we find that the differences between erythrocytes and leukocytes are:

erythrocytes leukocytes
The shape and structure of the erythrocytes is discal, biconcave and they do not have a nucleus. Leukocytes have an irregular shape, nucleus and outer layer.
Erythrocytes are smaller than leukocytes. Leukocytes are larger than erythrocytes.
Erythrocytes have an average life of 120 days. Leukocytes have an average life between 4 and 30 days.
The function of erythrocytes is the oxygenation of the blood. The function of leukocytes is related to immune defense.
Erythrocytes occupy almost 50% of the blood volume. Leukocytes occupy only 1% of the blood volume.

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