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Formation of Blood Cells

By

Ravindra Sarode

, MD, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
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Within the bone marrow, all blood cells originate from a single type of unspecialized cell called a stem cell. When a stem cell divides, it first becomes an immature red blood cell, white blood cell, or platelet-producing cell. The immature cell then divides, matures further, and ultimately becomes a mature red blood cell, white blood cell, or platelet.

The rate of blood cell production is controlled by the body's needs. Normal blood cells last for a limited time (ranging from a few hours to a few days for white blood cells, to about 10 days for platelets, to about 120 days for red blood cells) and must be replaced constantly. Certain conditions may trigger additional production of blood cells. When the oxygen content of body tissues is low or the number of red blood cells decreases, the kidneys produce and release erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. The bone marrow produces and releases more white blood cells in response to infections. It produces and releases more platelets in response to bleeding

Effects of aging on the blood

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Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a life-threatening disorder in which certain blood cells become cancerous and rapidly replace normal cells in the bone marrow. As normal blood cells are replaced by cancerous cells, people with AML become anemic from too few red blood cells. They develop infections easily because there are too few white blood cells to fight infections, and their blood does not clot well because of too few platelets. Which of the following additional symptoms of AML may be caused by having too few white blood cells?
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