US Researchers Discover the Function of Human Appendix (Download PDF)

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The human appendix may actually serve as a reservoir for beneficial gut bacteria found by US researchers. US-based researchers have identified functions of human appendix. Study suggests that the appendix likely serves an adaptive purpose.

Appendix in human body

Appendix in Human Body

Appendix in human body

Highlights

  • Appendix is often viewed as a vestigial organ with little-known use.
  • The organ likely serves an adaptive purpose.
  • This is due to evolutionary reason of the human body that never got rid of the appendix as it doesn’t harm most people.
  • It was found that species with appendix have higher concentrations of immune (lymphoid) tissue in cecum (part of the large intestines), thereby suggesting that appendix could serve as a secondary immune organ.
  • The appendix might also function as a “safe house” for helpful gut bacteria as lymphatic tissue can stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Thus it fulfills an important role in our bodies.
  • Scientists has discovered that the human appendix has evolved at least 30 times and even possibly up to a maximum of 41 times throughout the mammalian evolution.

About Appendix

Drawing of colon with variability of appendix

Drawing of Colon with Variability of Appendix

Drawing of colon with variability of appendix

  • The appendix sits at the junction of the small intestine and large intestine.
  • It’s a thin tube about four inches long.
  • It is a blind-ended tube connected to the cecum.
  • The cecum is a pouch like structure of the colon, located at the junction of the small and the large intestines.
  • Normally, the appendix sits in the lower right abdomen.
  • The human appendix averages 9 cm in length but can range from 2 to 20 cm.
  • The diameter of the appendix is usually between 7 and 8 mm.

- Published/Last Modified on: January 11, 2017

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