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Spleen May Help Heart Recover From Disease
Date:7/30/2009

pleen helped the mice recover from induced heart disease. A 1977 study of veterans who'd had their spleens removed suggested they had twice the risk of dying of heart disease, Swirski said.

They found that the spleen did indeed appear to help the heart, through white-blood cells known as monocytes. The spleen served as a home for many of the cells, Swirski said.

A report on the study appears in the July 31 issue of Science.

"This just adds another function to the spleen," Swirski said. "It's not only a place where blood cells come to die and where the immune system screens for infection. It's relevant to how the immune system is mobilized."

Future research could explore how to boost the spleen's role in the immune system's response or keep it from being hijacked by germs, he added.

In a commentary accompanying the study, two doctors from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City suggest the spleen is still as "dispensable," despite the new findings. But, they wrote, the spleen does seem "a bit more purposeful and deserving of recognition."

More information

The Journal of the American Medical Association has more about the spleen.



SOURCE: Filip K. Swirski, Ph.D., instructor, immunology, Harvard Medical School, Boston; July 31, 2009, Science


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