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Blood plasma is the liquid component of blood, in which the blood cells are suspended. Plasma is the largest single component of blood, making up about 55% of total blood volume. Blood plasma contains many vital proteins including fibrinogen, globulins and human serum albumin. Sometimes blood plasma can contain viral impurities which must be extracted through viral processing.
Serum refers to blood plasma in which clotting factors (such as fibrin) have been removed by the natural process of blood clotting.
Plasma resembles whey in appearance (transparent with a faint straw colour). It is mainly composed of water, blood proteins, and inorganic electrolytes. It serves as transport medium for glucose, lipids, amino acids, hormones, metabolic end products, carbon dioxide and oxygen. The oxygen transport capacity and oxygen content (CaO2) of plasma is much lower than that of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells; the CaO2 will, however, increase under hyperbaric conditions.) Plasma is the storage and transport medium of clotting factors. Its protein content is necessary to maintain the oncotic pressure of the blood, which "holds" the serum within the vessels. The act of separating plasma from red blood cells is called Plasmapheresis.
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