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Spleen Physiology

  • Erythrocyte Recycling
    • The Spleen is the primary organ which ensures that old, effete erythrocytes are properly eliminated and their hemoglobin effectively recycled as described in Heme Degradation. This recycling function is largely carried out by Macrophages surrounding the "Sheathed Capillaries" of the splenic Red Pulp. It is thought that these macrophages can recognize the reduced flexibility of effete erythrocytes and in response phagocytose and degrade these cells.
  • Immune Function
    • The White Pulp of the spleen is in many ways similar to a distributed lymph node specialized for surveillance of blood-borne microbes. Consequently, Asplenic Patients display an increased risk of certain types of hematogenous bacterial infections.
  • Hematopoiesis
    • In the fetus, the spleen acts as an important location for Hematopoiesis.
  • Blood Reservoir
    • Although this function is likely not important in humans, in certain mammals the spleen acts as a critical reservoir for blood.