Blood clearance of Howell–Jolly bodies in an experimental autogenic splenic implant model

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Autogenic splenic implant (ASI) is one of the few alternatives for preservation of splenic tissue when total splenectomy is inevitable. The aim of this study was to determine the morphological and functional regeneration of ASIs, as indicated by the clearance of Howell–Jolly (HJ) bodies, in an experimental model.


Ninety-nine male Wistar rats were divided into three groups: sham-operated (group 1), total splenectomy alone (group 2), and total splenectomy combined with ASI (group 3). Animals in group 3 were further allocated to nine subgroups of nine rats each, and analysed at different time points (1, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28 and 32 weeks after surgery). Blood smears were prepared at predetermined times for detection of HJ bodies. Morphological regeneration of tissue in the ASI was analysed by histology.


At 1 week, the regenerated mass corresponded to about 7 per cent of the tissue implanted, reaching approximately 54 per cent at 24 weeks. The HJ body levels were increased in groups 2 and 3 until 8 weeks after surgery, following which levels in the ASI group became similar to those in the sham-operated group. HJ bodies were difficult to detect when a level of 22·5 per cent of regenerated ASI mass was reached.


Functional regeneration of ASIs occurred from 8 weeks after surgery. When 22·5 per cent of regenerated ASI mass was reached almost no HJ bodies could be observed in the bloodstream, resembling a spleen in situ.

Surgical relevance

Splenectomy has been practised routinely, both in the emergency setting and as a therapeutic elective procedure. There is a correlation between asplenia/hyposplenia and the occurrence of fulminant sepsis, underlining the importance of developing surgical methods for preserving splenic function.

Surgical relevance

Both clinical and experimental studies have shown at least partial morphological and functional regeneration of autogenic splenic implants (ASIs). Experimental studies investigating the immunoprotective effect of ASIs, based mostly on exposure of animals to various bacteria, have demonstrated that ASIs can increase the rate of bacterial clearance and decrease mortality from sepsis. Clinical studies have shown their ability to remove colloidal substances and altered erythrocyte corpuscular inclusions, such as Howell–Jolly, Heinz and Pappenheimer bodies, from the bloodstream. In this experimental study the functional and morphological regeneration of ASIs was studied over time in rats.

Surgical relevance

Provides morphological and functional regeneration

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