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Spleen microcirculation

Learning objectives

This study unit will allow you to:

  1. Become familiar with the internal structure of the spleen.
  2. Learn to morphologically and functionally differentiate between red and white pulp.
  3. Understand the vascular supply and organization of the spleen.

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The spleen is an ovoid intraperitoneal organ located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen below the diaphragm. On the one hand, it is the largest lymphoid organ in the body and therefore has a role in immune surveillance, as well as the proliferation and maturation of lymphocytes. Contrastingly, it can be also seen as a "red blood cell graveyard" due to its role in the filtering and degradation of aged, malformed, and damaged erythrocytes. It also serves as a type of reservoir for healthy red blood cells and platelets.

The internal organization of the spleen morphologically reflects these primary functions and can be divided into two types of tissue: white and red pulp. The white pulp is defined by congregations of lymphoid nodules which are traversed by central arterioles. Surrounding this is the red pulp, a higher vascular tissue defined by splenic cords and venous sinuses.

Explore this topic in detail in the video below!

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Check your knowledge about the microcirculation of the spleen with our quiz below:

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Browse atlas

You can take a closer look at the microcirculation of the spleen with our image gallery:


Key points about the spleen microcirculation
Parts of the spleen Capsule, trabeculae, red pulp, white pulp
Red pulp Splenic cords (of Billroth), splenic sinusoids
White pulp Periarterial lymphoid sheath (PALS), lymphoid nodules (primary nodule, secondary nodules with germinal center), marginal zone
Arterial supply Splenic artery, trabecular artery, central artery, penicillar arteriole, arterial capillaries
Venous drainage Splenic vein, trabecular vein, red pulp vein, vein sinuses

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