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The spleen filters blood by removing old red blood cells, and acts as a store of blood in the body. The spleen also plays an important role in the immune system. It also has a limited role in the digestive system. Read on to learn more about the spleen, and what it does.

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Spleen
Spleen

The spleen is roughly shaped like a loose fist. It is located in the upper-left part of your abdomen, below the diaphragm. It is protected inside the rib cage by 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th ribs.

The spleen filters blood removing old red blood cells. The spleen also stores blood. This stored blood can be used by the body in emergencies, such as loss of blood due to a bad cut. The spleen also plays an important role in the immune system.

The spleen contains two distinct parts, the white pulp and the red pulp. The white pulp is distributed as lymphatic tissue within the red pulp. The white pulp produces lymphocytes to ingest and destroy foreign or damaged cells. The red pulp acts as a filter, removing damaged or abnormal red blood cells. Normal red blood cells pass through the red pulp, while the lymphocytes destroy the damaged red cells.

The spleen's role in digestion is somewhat indirect. Once the blood is filtered in the spleen, the hemoglobin is transferred to the liver for further metabolism making it more water-soluble. Bilirubin is a major breakdown product of hemoglobin. The water solubility of bilirubin allows it to be excreted into bile that is used to digest food.

 

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