The Difference Between Plasma and Serum

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What is the difference between plasma and serum? Blood is a fluid that carries nutrients, oxygen, and metabolic wastes throughout the body. It also helps regulate the body temperature and pH levels.

Plasma is the liquid part of blood that contains water, proteins, clotting factors, and fibrinogen. Serum is the non-liquid part of blood that does not contain these clotting agents.


Proteins are the main components of all cells and tissues. They are made from amino acids and can have a variety of functions.

Plasma contains a mix of antibodies, coagulation factors, and other substances that are necessary for the body to function properly. When the clotting factors are removed, the plasma becomes serum, a fluid that is similar to interstitial fluid.

Serum proteins are composed of albumin (about one-half of blood serum) and globulins (about 20 percent). They transport hormones, fatty acids, and other small molecules in the body and maintain osmotic pressures.

They also regulate acid-base balance and maintain body temperature. These functions are essential for life. Having a low level of plasma proteins can be an indicator of a serious medical problem.


Water is a complex liquid that makes up about 90 percent of blood plasma. It is freely exchangeable with other fluids in the body and is available to maintain the normal hydration of all tissues.

Water also serves as the medium for the transportation of excretory products. In particular, it transports protein, glucose, and amino acids.

It also helps in the removal of waste from cells. In addition, plasma contains clotting factors like fibrinogen.

In contrast, the serum is a cell-free fluid from the blood that has been depleted of clotting factors. It can be used for many types of tests that measure blood proteins, lipids, electrolytes, hormones, and other markers.


Electrolytes are salts and metals that carry an electrical charge. These charges help conduct electric impulses in the body.

The most important electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphorus. They are essential for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and water balance.

They can also affect the pH of the blood and other fluids in the body. Some of these electrolytes are dissolved in the blood serum (liquid portion of blood) and some are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract and other areas of the body.

The concentrations of these electrolytes can be measured in plasma by a technique called indirect ISE. This method uses ion-selective electrodes to measure the concentration of the electrolytes in a total plasma sample that has been diluted with a large volume of diluent.

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Clotting Factors

Blood contains clotting factors that help stop bleeding after an injury. These clotting factors include fibrinogen and thrombin.

Blood also contains heparin, an anticoagulant that works by forming complexes with anti-thrombin-III to prevent clotting. This anticoagulant prevents blood from clotting too easily, helping protect patients with health conditions such as hemophilia and liver disease.

Coagulation factors are proteins that respond in a complex cascade to convert fibrinogen, a water-soluble protein present in blood serum, into fibrin, a non-water-soluble protein. This strengthens the platelet plug (fibrin clot) that forms to stop bleeding after an injury.

There are several coagulation factors, including fibrinogen, factor IX, and clotting factor VIII. Factor VII is the most common coagulation factor and is found in both plasma and serum.

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