Research Finds That The Appendix May Actually Have A Function After All

Well, this is interesting.

After all of these years of people getting their appendixes removed — and everyone wondering exactly what is the point of this existing organ — research has found that the appendix actually does have a use after all. This study found that the appendix, although not required for human digestion, houses bacteria that is important for overall gut health.

The study, published in the November 2015 journal Nature Immunology, looked at how innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) protect against infection in people with compromised immune systems. The study looked at mice and found that altering the balance of immune cells significantly affected what was happening in the mice’s cecum, which mimics what could be happening in our body’s appendix.

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The researchers suspect that ILCs housed in the appendix may be there as a reserve to repopulate the gut with good bacteria after an infection, which would mean removing the organ might not be the best option after all.

Although more research is needed, this study is beginning to show how the appendix may be a part of our immune system as well as a part of helping to keep your gut microbiome balanced.