Physiological clearance of Aβ by spleen and splenectomy aggravates Alzheimer-type pathogenesis

Aging Cell. 2022 Jan;21(1):e13533. doi: 10.1111/acel.13533. Epub 2021 Dec 23.


Background: A previous study demonstrated that nearly 40%-60% of brain Aβ flows out into the peripheral system for clearance. However, where and how circulating Aβ is cleared in the periphery remains unclear. The spleen acts as a blood filter and an immune organ. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of the spleen in the clearance of Aβ in the periphery.

Methods: We investigated the physiological clearance of Aβ by the spleen and established a mouse model of AD and spleen excision by removing the spleens of APP/PS1 mice to investigate the effect of splenectomy on AD mice.

Results: We found that Aβ levels in the splenic artery were higher than those in the splenic vein, suggesting that circulating Aβ is cleared when blood flows through the spleen. Next, we found that splenic monocytes/macrophages could take up Aβ directly in vivo and in vitro. Splenectomy aggravated behaviour deficits, brain Aβ burden and AD-related pathologies in AD mice.

Conclusion: Our study reveals for the first time that the spleen exerts a physiological function of clearing circulating Aβ in the periphery. Our study also suggests that splenectomy, which is a routine treatment for splenic rupture and hypersplenism, might accelerate the development of AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Aβ burden; behaviour deficits; splenectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Spleen / pathology*
  • Splenectomy / methods*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides