Explaining the spleen

The spleen. We all have one. But what does it do? Like the appendix, it’s long been thought of as one of evolution’s leftovers: useless when healthy, dangerous when damaged, like junior cabinet ministers. Now it turns out that it’s your body’s garrison. As the always worth reading Natalie Angier explains in the New York Times:

The spleen is a reservoir for huge numbers of immune cells called monocytes, and that in the event of a serious trauma to the body like a heart attack, gashing wound or microbial invasion, the spleen will disgorge those monocyte multitudes into the bloodstream to tackle the crisis. “The parallel in military terms is a standing army,” said Matthias Nahrendorf, an author of the report. “You don’t want to have to recruit an entire fighting force from the ground up every time you need it.”

More here.

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