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Purpose of the Appendix

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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Purpose of the Appendix

Postby jsmith613 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:04 pm

I know that in past times, the appendix was thought to have no use, however I have heard that recently a purpose has been found for it. What is it? please can someone tell me.
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Postby biohazard » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:48 pm

Some recent studies suggest the appendix has similar immunological role as e.g. tonsils. That means that they contain lymphatic tissue, where some immunological events take place; probably microbe antigen presentation by macrophages and such cells to T cells. This function is so small, however, that no noticeable effects are usually seen and humans can do pretty much as well even if these organs are removed.

The spleen is a more important lymphatic organ that can also be removed, but in this case certain effects can already be seen - including increased susceptibility to infections.

What comes to the immunological function, even more important are lymph nodes and the gut: without their proper function we would not survive.
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Postby Darby » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:54 pm

There is also some evidence that it serves as a repository for colonic symbiotic bacteria - if some nasty diarrheal disease clears out the main tract, there's a stash in the appendix from which the populations can be reconstituted. A major article came out this summer comparing structures across many different mammals, with the slant of supporting that hypothesis.
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Re:

Postby biohazard » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:53 am

Darby wrote:There is also some evidence that it serves as a repository for colonic symbiotic bacteria - if some nasty diarrheal disease clears out the main tract, there's a stash in the appendix from which the populations can be reconstituted. A major article came out this summer comparing structures across many different mammals, with the slant of supporting that hypothesis.


Good addition, Darby. Now as I think about it, I remember reading about that article as well.
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