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August 1978

Splenectomy and the Thymic Involution of Increasing Age

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse.

Arch Surg. 1978;113(8):972-975. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1978.01370200066012

• Forty young female rats, aged about 3 months, were weighed on entry into the study; half were subjected to initial splenectomy. Animals were weighed at monthly intervals thereafter. Ten animals from each group were killed at four months, and ten from each group at one year. Thymuses and spleens were dissected out and weighed.

Because of progressive weight gain, all groups showed declining thymic index. Absolute thymus weight did not change significantly in splenectomized animals. Intact animals showed significantly reduced thymus weight at 4 months (P <.001) and at 12 months (P <.005).

We conclude that the spleen may be a causative factor in the thymic involution of increasing age. The process is gradual and indolent compared to the rapid thymic weight depletion that occurs in the presence of growing tumor.

(Arch Surg 113:972-975, 1978)