Role of appendix and spleen in experimental colitis

J Surg Res. 2001 Dec;101(2):166-75. doi: 10.1006/jsre.2001.6223.


There is growing clinical evidence suggesting that certain secondary lymphoid tissues (e.g., appendix and spleen) contribute to the initiation and/or perpetuation of ulcerative colitis. In this study, the importance of secondary lymphoid tissues in inducing colitis was assessed experimentally by removing the spleen and/or appendix (or sham operation) prior to inducing colitis in mice. Feeding 2.5% dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) in drinking water over 7 days induced colitis. Clinical disease activity was assessed based on weight loss, stool consistency, and presence of blood in stools. Additional measurements included white blood cell count and hematocrit, and myeloperoxidase activity (MPO) in colon samples. Colonic injury was assessed by histology and computerized image analysis. DSS treatment in sham-operated mice produced colitis associated with weight loss, bloody diarrhea, and mucosal ulceration. Clinical assessment of DSS-treated mice subjected to appendectomy or combined appendectomy/splenectomy exhibited a delayed onset and course of disease activity. Histomorphologic examination revealed significantly lower damage scores and a reduction in ulcerated mucosal surface area. Colonic MPO activity, which correlated with tissue injury and disease activity, was lowest in appendectomized mice. No beneficial effects of splenectomy were observed after 7 days of colitis. These findings support the hypothesis that appendicular lymphoid tissue, but not the spleen, contributes to the development of colitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendix / physiology*
  • Colitis / etiology*
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Colon / enzymology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Dextran Sulfate / toxicity
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Spleen / physiology*
  • Splenectomy


  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Peroxidase