The Splenic Challenge

By William Aird

About every 200 minutes, each red blood cell in our circulation is routed through the open circulation (red pulp) of the spleen, where it undergoes rigorous quality control.1

Like newly hatched sea turtles racing to the ocean to avoid predators, RBCs in the red pulp work fervently to avoid ‘hungry’ macrophages as they try squeezing through the narrowest of interendothelial slits to return to the comfort of the circulation.

Any defect in the RBC (especially in deformability) impedes its passage through the slits and marks it for engulfment and disposal by macrophages.

If the RBC had a mind, you can imagine it saying to itself, “oh no, not again” as it faces its next turn in the red pulp!