What are Yellow Bone Marrow and Red Bone Marrow? What is their difference? - Bansal Hospital Bhopal

What are Yellow Bone Marrow and Red Bone Marrow? What is their difference?


All of us know that blood cells are very crucial for the functioning of our bodies, but do we know the source of these blood cells? Where do these emerge from, and what does it do? A little science class never hurt anyone to learn the basics about our everyday functioning of the body. 

However, not many of us are still aware of bone marrow’s role in our body’s growth, development, and survival.

Bone marrow is a sponge-like substance or tissue present inside the bones’ cavities. It is known that bones perform the functions of providing support and protection to the body while providing the ability to move. 

However, another lesser-known role played by the bones is producing blood cells and storing fats.

There are two kinds of bone marrow. Red bone marrow produces blood cells, whereas yellow bone marrow is responsible for storing fats.

Now, you must think, if it plays such a vital role, is it possible to live without it? The answer is no, as it is the core unit responsible for the blood inside your body, but the next question you must be wondering is, what if it cannot function correctly? Can it be donated? If yes, how will the doner survive? The answer to this is the donor will survive.

This is because the donor only donates a small amount of bone marrow, and it won’t harm or weaken their immune system as the body will be able to recover it within a few weeks.

What are the differences between red and yellow bone marrow?

           Red Bone Marrow

      Yellow Bone Marrow

Red bone marrow consists of RBCs, WBCs, and megakaryocytes in their stages of development.

Yellow bone marrow is named after its appearance as it has a high concentration of fats that appear

Red bone marrow converts into yellow bone marrow with growth. An adult has less red bone marrow than the
yellow one.

Yellow bone marrow rises during adolescents and adulthood and becomes prominent in most bones.  

Red bone marrow’s other name is medulla ossium Rubra.

Yellow bone marrow’s other name is medulla ossium Flava.

The red bone marrow produces crucial cells, including RBCs, WBCs, and Platelets that help us stay

The yellow bone marrow produces fat cells, cartilage, and bones. It stores fat.

Red bone marrow is present at the end of long bones such as shoulder blades, ribs, skull, and spine. 

Yellow bone marrow is present in the marrow cavity of most long human bones. 

What is the purpose of red bone marrow?

Red Bone Marrow function is hematopoiesis, meaning blood cell production. A variety of new cells can be developed by hematopoietic stem cells, most of which include. 

Red Blood Cells

These newly formed cells enter the bloodstream through blood vessels called sinusoids. With age, the red bone marrow is replaced by the yellow bone marrow, and the red bone marrow is found only in a few spaces, including the skull, ribs, vertebrae, sternum, pelvis, ends of the femur ( thigh bone), end of the tibia (shin bone), and end of the humerus ( upper arm bone).

These cells carry blood with oxygen to the cells or tissues of the body and carbon dioxide (product of metabolism) to the lungs to excrete it. The oxygen carried by the RBCs is low and freed into the tissues. Bone marrow can break old red blood cells, but this task is done primarily by the liver and spleen.


Platelets are tiny components or elements of the blood that help with clotting. They prevent inevitable bleeding. During the injury, the platelets cluster at the place of the wound and seal blood vessels, preventing excesses from leaving the body. 

As they are the lightest component, platelets are shifted at the sides of the wall, allowing the clotting process to take place faster and letting the blood cells and plasma flow easily through the center.

White Blood Cells

These cells help in fighting infections and are an integral part of the immune system. White blood cells travel through the bloodstream and locate the place of infection, and as soon as they find it, they notify the other white blood cells and call for them to fight the unknown attack. Once the white blood cells arrive, they fight and destroy organisms by producing antibody proteins. 

So, the next question that must be hovering over your heads is where plasma comes from and why haven’t been explicitly mentioned in the above section. The reason is that plasma is made from white blood cells and is a form of WBCs found in the bone marrow, containing only a few plasma cells. 

Red bone marrow cancers are leukemia, polycythemia, and myeloma. In leukemia, there is a rapid rise in the production of abnormal WBCs, which are unable to fight infection and hamper the ability of bone marrow to produce blood cells and platelets. Plasma cells are WBCs that produce antibodies in your body to fight infections.

Myeloma prevents the production of antibodies, weakening the body’s immune system. The bone marrow produces too many blood cells in polycythemia, causing blood thickening and significant problems such as blood clots.

What does yellow bone marrow do? 

The yellow bone marrow’s function is to store fat. The fat stored in yellow bone marrow is known as adipocytes. The purpose of the stored fat is to provide and convert it into energy when needed.

The yellow bone marrow cells contain mesenchymal stem cells, which can grow into fat, cartilage, bone, or muscle cells. Most of the yellow bone marrow is present in the bones of adults as it replaces red bone marrow over time.

In serious cases of emergencies where our body experiences severe blood loss. Yellow bone marrow transforms into red bone marrow during life-threatening situations to produce blood cells and keep them alive in fatal cases. 


The bone marrow plays a vital role in the functioning of our body, and it can’t be stressed enough. Still, in severe conditions such as cancer, aplastic anemia, or dysfunction of the bone marrow, bone marrow transplantation might be required. You might want regular checkups with your doctor to see if your blood is functioning well.


Bansal Hospital Bhopal has the best hematology, hemato-oncology, and bone marrow transplantation department that meticulously diagnoses and provides treatment for mild to severe conditions. 

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