Blood Cell Isolation: Components of Whole Blood & RBC Separation from Whole Blood Sample

March 2020


Blood separation is a key part of many life sciences. Researchers in clinical labs and other biotechnical roles commonly analyze blood cells, but to perform this research, whole blood must first be separated into its components.

By isolating and enriching target cells from plasma, scientists can then detect diseases, study immunological functions, and further process specific cell types.

Components of Whole Blood

Whole blood consists of red cells, white cells, and platelets. These components (about 45% of total blood volume) are suspended in plasma (about 55% of total blood volume).

Red blood cells (RBCs), also called erythrocytes, transport oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body, providing tissues with oxygen for cells to use and sending carbon dioxide to the lungs for expulsion.

White blood cells (WBCs), known as leucocytes, sustain the body’s immune system by attacking infectious cells and foreign invaders. WBCs are further categorized into mononuclear cells (lymphocytes and monocytes) and polymorphonuclear cells (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils).

Platelets, or thrombocytes, act as “first responders” at the site of injury to form clumps that help stop bleeding.

Purpose of Blood Separation

Since each blood cell type has its own unique purpose and function, separating the various blood components allows scientists to analyze specific cell types. For example, human leucocytes can be used to study immunological functions such as cytokine production and surface marker expression. Other blood components can be used to detect diseases.

Once separated, blood cells can be further isolated into cell subsets.

Separating Blood Cells from Plasma

Blood is usually separated from plasma through centrifugation. Centrifugal force is used to separate the components of whole blood, resulting in three layers of different densities: RBCs, a mixture of WBCs and platelets, and plasma. The addition of a density separation medium can further produce a population of mononuclear cells separate from the RBCs and granulocytes

However, centrifugation and other blood separation techniques may leave behind residual RBCs, which can extend sort times and impede subsequent cell separation. At Akadeum, our response to RBC contamination is our innovative microbubble technology.

Akadeum Microbubbles Offer an Innovative Solution

Akadeum buoyancy-activated cell sorting (BACS™) microbubbles are designed to clean up samples by targeting and isolating unwanted cells for removal. Our RBC Depletion Microbubbles are a simple, effective way to separate residual RBCs from mononuclear cell suspensions and are specifically designed for samples with significant red blood cell contamination. If you want to reduce sort times and improve the quality of your sorted cells, check out our microbubbles.

Back to Top