Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Main Difference

The main difference between red bone marrow and yellow bone marrow is that red bone marrow occurs between the trabeculae of spongy bones whereas yellow bone marrow occurs in the marrow cavity of the long bones.

Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow — Is There a Difference?
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Difference Between Red Bone Marrow and Yellow Bone Marrow

Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Red bone marrow is also named as medulla ossium Rubra whereas yellow bone marrow is also named as medulla ossium flava.

Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Red bone marrow is present inside the spongy bone whereas yellow bone marrow is present inside the compact bone.

Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Red bone marrow produces blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) whereas yellow bone marrow produces fats, cartilage, and bones.

Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Cells of the red bone marrows actively divide to produce blood cells whereas the cells in the yellow bone marrow store fats and produce blood cells.

Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Hemoglobin gives the red color to the red bone marrow whereas the carotenoids in the fat droplets provide the yellow color to the yellow bone marrow.

Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Red bone marrow is present throughout the skeleton during the fetal life whereas, with age, yellow bone marrow takes the place of red bone marrow.

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Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Red bone marrow is present in the ribs, skull, spine, shoulder blade and at the end of long bones whereas yellow bone marrow is present in the marrow cavity of the long bones.

Comparison Chart

Red Bone MarrowYellow Bone Marrow
Red bone marrow is a mesh of networks that consists of the developmental stages of white blood cells, red blood cells, and megakaryocytes.Yellow bone marrow is the bone marrow which consists of fat and replaces the red bone marrow in the long bones during adolescence.
Other Name
Medulla ossium rubra, Myeloid tissueMedulla ossium flava
Occurrence
Occurs inside the spongy bonesOccurs inside the compact bones
Function
Produces the white blood cells, red blood cells, and plateletsProduces the cartilage, fat cells and bones
Color
Red color because of hemoglobin present in RBCsYellow color because of carotenoids present in the fat droplets
Blood Supply
Rich in blood supplyPoor blood supply
Cells
Actively divide to produce blood cellsStore fats and produce blood cells when needed
Development
Found in the whole skeleton during the fetal lifeReplaces the RBCs in the long bones
Location in the skeleton
Present in the skull, ribs, spine, shoulder blades and at the terminal point of long bonesLocated in the marrow cavity of the long bones
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Red Bone Marrow vs. Yellow Bone Marrow

Red bone marrow which is also called myeloid tissue is highly vascularized and initially produces hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) which differentiate into progenitor cells that generate red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These differentiated cells then enter into the blood circulation through sinusoids. In contrast, Yellow bone marrow is formed from the red bone marrow which is converted into yellow marrow throughout an individual life. In this marrow, adipocytes are the primary cell type in yellow marrow. The lipid droplets within these cells contain carotenoids.

What is Red Bone Marrow?

Red bone marrow contains hematopoietic tissue. The main function of red bone marrow is to produce all types of blood cells such as RBCs, WBCs, and platelets. At the time of birth, all bone marrow is red, but with the passage of age, it is replaced by the yellow bone marrow. With age, the level of red bone marrow decreases. Almost 2.6 kg of bone marrow is present in adults and half of it is red bone marrow. Red bone marrow can be found in the spongy bones of the skull, spine, ribs, shoulder blades, sternum and at the end of the long bones in legs and arms in adults. Red bone marrow is filled in the spaces of the trabeculae plates in the spongy bones.

Two types of the stem cells are produced by the hematopoietic stem cells of the bone marrow which are lymphoid stem cells and myeloid stem cells. Lymphoid stem cells are differentiated into red blood cells whereas myeloid stem cells are differentiated into white blood cells. Red bone marrow has all developmental stages of most of the blood cells. When these blood cells become mature, they are released into the circulation. Red bone marrow also assists as filters for damaged and aged blood cells and removes them from the blood circulation. All blood cells are produced in the red bone marrow, so it is richly supplied with the blood.

What is Yellow Bone Marrow?

Yellow bone marrow is riched with fat. It primarily occurs in the marrow cavity of the long bones. The yellow bone marrow is formed from red bone marrow. At the age of five years, red bone marrow in the marrow cavity is converted into the yellow bone marrow. With age, the level of yellow bone marrow increases. The fat is stored in the cell called adipocytes and can be consumed in extreme hunger. The fat of the yellow bone marrow is the last source of the body’s energy. It helped to provide sustenance and maintained a balanced environment for the bone to function, but in certain conditions such as in significant blood loss, yellow bone marrow is converted into the red bone marrow to produce blood cells. It can also be converted into cartilage and compact bones. It has an inadequate blood supply compared with the red bone marrow.

The lipids which are stored in the yellow bone marrow are called marrow fats and are physiologically different from brown and white adipose tissue and enhance with age, in a gender-specific manner and various disease conditions such as spinal cord injury and starvation. This increase in marrow fat levels decreases the ratio of HSCs t adipocytes which is called bone marrow cellularity. In some conditions such as sickle cell disease or high altitude, the count of HSCs is upregulated increasing bone marrow cellularity.

Conclusion

It has concluded that yellow bone marrow is formed from red bone marrow and both types of bone marrows differ from each other based on functions and some characteristics.