Structure and function of the spleen

Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 Aug;5(8):606-16. doi: 10.1038/nri1669.


The spleen combines the innate and adaptive immune system in a uniquely organized way. The structure of the spleen enables it to remove older erythrocytes from the circulation and leads to the efficient removal of blood-borne microorganisms and cellular debris. This function, in combination with a highly organized lymphoid compartment, makes the spleen the most important organ for antibacterial and antifungal immune reactivity. A better understanding of the function of this complex organ has been gained from recent studies, as outlined in this Review article.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Spleen / anatomy & histology*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology*