What is Clinical Chemistry

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Clinical chemistry is one application of the chemical sciences to medicine.  This subject is purely an experimental practice that relies heavily on instrumentation and chemical analytical techniques such as chromatography in all its forms.  This discipline of chemistry requires a lot of knowledge and background in the medical and the chemical sciences.  This subject is usually taught to students that are majoring in the subject that is entitled:"Medical laboratory technicians".  This subject is usually instructed in schools that have medical sciences programs.  This subject includes the techniques for hematologic analysis such as measurements of the hamatocrit value for a given sample of blood.  Also in hematologic analysis many other diagnostic tools are used in this branch of chemistry.  This includes the number of red blood cells in a given sample of blood.  This measurement can give information about whether there is anemia or not in the blood of the affected person. 

Hematological analysis is divided into cellular components and plasma components.  The cellular component includes red blood cells and cells of the immune system in addition to the platelets.  Clinical measurements of these cells can give valuable information about the health status of the body.  There are in clinical chemistry many tests for the evaluation of the normal function of these cells.  For example high blood hematocrit can signify a polycethemia in the affected person.  This medical disorder can be caused due to increased production of red blood cells as occurs in high blood level of the hormone erythropoietin.  This hormone can be overproduced in the body for example in some types of kidney cancers.  Also high hematocrit can be caused due to increased loss of water from the body as occurs in dehydrated people and with persons that loose much fluid from their body.  In addition certain hematologic tumors can be manifested by increased production of red blood cells. 

Measurement of immune cells in the blood can also give valuable diagnostic information about the health status of the examined person.  Immune cells are of variable types and functions.  Their excess or deficiency in the blood can be diagnostic about certain medical disorders such as allergies.  Autoimmune disorders are usually diagnosed by measuring in a blood sample of certain types of antibodies that are called autoantibodies.  These are proteins that function to attack host cells instead of foreign cells.  Host cells mean cells that are native or normal to the body tissue.  In addition the plasma components of the blood are also of diagnostic value to the health status of the examined person.  For example, hormones are usually part of the blood plasma. 

Measurement of their concentration in the plasma can give valuable diagnostic information about the function of the endocrine system.  For example high levels of the thyroid hormone in the blood can sometimes signify hyperactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism.  Measurement of these hormones in the blood is one important practice of the clinical chemistry.  Also the electrolytes disturbance in the plasma is a major form of practice for the clinical laboratory.  Especially measurement of Na+ and K+ ions are of diagnostic significance regarding the normal status of the nervous system in affected individuals.  Also Ca++ ions measurements are important for the normal function of bone tissues in the body.  Most proteins in the plasma are soluble in water.  For example, the clotting factors of the blood are water soluble proteins that are produced in the liver.  These clotting factors are one subject for  clinical chemistry.  Their deficiency in the blood can signify liver dysfunction such as occurs in chronic liver failure.  This subject usually requires lab skills that are acquired during the study of this important subject.

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