Immune functions: does the appendix have an organic function?

The appendix is ​​an evolutionary advantage
The appendix (medical caecum) and its appendix are usually not assigned any important function and removal of the organ, for example in the case of appendicitis, is therefore considered to be relatively uncritical. But the appendix obviously offers an evolutionary advantage, according to a recent study.

In many cases, the appendix is ​​also considered a largely useless organ by doctors, but this could be a fatal misjudgment. The evolutionary reason for the development of the appendix has so far remained largely unclear. However, the research team led by Heather F. Smith from Midwestern University in Glendale (USA) has now been able to demonstrate that the appendix has various advantages.

Hundreds of species of mammals studied
The scientists considered a total of 533 mammal species in their current study. "We collected data on appendix presence and size, other gastrointestinal signs, ecological variables, eating habits and social characteristics", the scientists report in the journal "Comptes Rendus Palevol".

Supporting adaptive immune function
There were several advantages to the appendix in the study. For example, the researchers found a positive correlation between the presence of a large intestine and the level of lymphoid tissue. This correlation supports the "hypothesis of an adaptive immune function" of the appendix and the appendix, the scientists report.

Advantage for illnesses
The current study also confirmed the hypothesis that healthy intestinal bacteria can persist in the worm process if, for example, there is diarrhea. According to the doctors, this allows the intestinal flora to be rebuilt quickly after the disease. If the appendix has been removed, these advantages will be completely lost. (fp)

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