27 Apr 2012

Abstract This  article is devoted to definition and terminology of separate structural components of the human spleen and the rat spleen, also species characteristics of morphology of the white and red pulp of the human spleen and the rat spleen are shown here too.

Keywords  Spleen, marginal sinus, marginal zone, ellipsoids.



Резюме Изучена история вопроса по определению и терминологии отдельных структурных компонентов селезенки человека и крысы. Показаны видовые отличия морфологии красной и белой пульпы селезенки человека и крысы.

Ключевые слова: селезенка, маргинальная зона, маргинальный синус, эллипсоиды



Түйін Aдам мен егеуқұйықтар көкбауырының жеке құрылымдар құрамын анықтау және терміндерінің шығу тарихы зерттелді. Адам мен егуқұйрықтар көкбауырының қызыл және ақ пульпаларының морфологиясының түрлік ерекшеліктері көрсетілді.

Түйінді сөздер көкбауыр, маргиналді аймақ, маргиналді синус, эллипсоид.


At present significant  progress in  human immune  organs  study is achieved, in the human spleen in particular (1,2,3,4). In the 1970s  Neiuwenhuis P., Keuning F. (5) performed experimental studies on rat spleen immunological function and Veerman (6) published a detailed description of the white pulp of the rat spleen.

Nevertheless, there is still some confusion surrounding the morphology and function of the human spleen.  This confusion  is explained by several reasons. This organ is extremely vulnerable to autolysis, which makes findings in postmortem specimens difficult to interpret.  A  big problem lies in  interpretation and definition of the normal  spleen due to the fact that diseases affecting  the function of immunogenesis in humans throughout life are  not always known, also are unknown what anti-virus vaccines were received in childhood.  The next problem is that in humans the spleen shrinks rapidly after death  due to a sudden drop of  pressure in the splenic vein and around all portal system, and as a  result the morphological description of such a spleen sections does not correspond to the spleen structure in vivo.  That is why the best way to preserve the spleen native structure and have appropriate sections of the spleen  is fixation perfusion of the shrunk spleen vein under great pressure till normal sizes of the spleen are restored (7).

Another source of misunderstanding about the structure of the human spleen is the terminology and definitions used. Usually, these terms and definitions originate from studies on animal spleens, however the human spleen does not have an identical structure (8).

Due to the abovementioned, the aim of our study was to find main species characteristics of morphology of spleens in the humans and rats commonly used as an experimental animal.


Material and Methods


The material for the  rat spleen morphology study was excised from spleens of 6 mature healthy decapitated rats undergone quarantine inspection.

The material for the human spleen morphology study was excised after autopsy from spleens of 6 humans dying  from injuries incompatible with life.

The paraffin sections were stained with hematoxylin-and-eosin and with azur-II-and-eosin.



The  human spleen differs from the rat spleen mainly by absence of  periarteriolar lymphoid sheath and marginal sinus around arterioles.  The pulp arteries are not surrounded by collagen fibers but have lymphoid tissue which is getting thin as divided into arterioles and capillary. Due to absence of the marginal sinus in the human spleen which in animals  is a borderline between mantle and marginal zones, it is difficult to differentiate the mantle zone of the lymphoid node which confuses the definition of the term “the marginal zone”.

For example, J. Krieken, J. Te Velde (8) proposed to mark the bordering area between the red and white pulp as “perifollicolular zone” and the term “the marginal zone” for the unique splenic structure that is always and  exclusively present around the small IgD  and IgM-positive lymphocytes of the mantle zone, or  “corona”, what to our opinion, is more appropriate when describing the normal and pathological spleen morphology.  Whilst,  widely used in literature terms “the inner marginal zone” and “the outer marginal”, referring to the perifollicolular zone bring discord into definition of the normal structure of the spleen parenchyma.

In the red pulp of  the spleen parenchyma one might notice local aggregates of reticular fibers devoid of capillaries  formed after postmortem collapse due to a sudden drop  of pressure of venous blood in the portal system.   The spleen capillaries peculiarity lies in the  capillary endings specific only for the spleen and defined differently by different authors as “sheathed capillaries” (hulsekapillaren), ellipsoids (sheath of Schweigger-Seidel), periarterial macrophage sheath, macrophage ellipsoids, ellipsoid macrophage-lymphoid mantle, ellipsoid arteriols and so on. In humans they are present only in the red pulp and perifollicolular zone. These capillary sheathes  (ellipsoids) are composed of mononuclear phagocytes. The endothelial lining of the capillary ends in a string of  concentrically arranged macrophages.

All above mentioned structures are well defined in the rat spleen, having well expressed structural aspects of  the immune apparatus specific to all types of mammals (9).



1. Klatt E. Robbins and Cotran Atlas of Patology. Florida State University (пер. на русский. «Логосфера».-2010.-С.-1-531)

2.Cesta M.F. Normal Structure, Function, and Histology of the Spleen//Toxicologic Pathology.-2006.-vol.34.-5.-455-465

3.Mebius RE, Kraal G. Structure and function of the spleen//Nat Rev Immunol.-2005.-№5.-606-616

4.Шаршембиев Ж.А. Лимфоидные структуры селезенки после введения полиоксидония//Морфология (С-Петербург).-2004.-№1.С.-64-66

5.Neiuwenhuis P., Keuning F. Comparative migration of B- and T-lymphocytes in the rat spleen and lymph nodes//Cell Immunol.-1976.-№23.-С.-254-267

6. Veerman A. White pulp compartments in the spleen of rats and mice//Cell Tissue Res.-1975.-№156.-С.417-441

7. Хэм А., Кормак Д. Гистология. Т.2.-М.-1983

8. J. Krieken, J. Velde. Normal histology of the human spleen//American Journal of surgical pathology.-1988.-№12.С.-777-785

9. Досаев Т.М., Космамбетов Т.С. Иммундық жүйе ағзаларының қызметтік анатомиясы және эмбриогенезі//Алматы.-2010.-С.1-53


T. M. Dosaev, S. T. Omarova,  A. A. Balapanova

Department of anatomy of Kazakh National Medical University





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