Has recently retired from being “vestige of evolution” …
From Jordan Rosenfeld at Mental Floss:
While the appendix is not required for digestive functions in humans, Belz tells mental_floss, “It does house symbiotic bacteria proposed by Randal Bollinger and Bill Parker at Duke University to be important for overall gut health, but particularly when we get a gut infection resulting in diarrhea.”
Infections of this kind clear the gut not only of fluids and nutrients but also good bacteria. Their research suggests that those ILCs [innate lymphoid cells] housed in the appendix may be there as a reserve to repopulate the gut with good bacteria after a gut infection.
ILCs are hardier than other immune cells, and thus vital to fighting bacterial infections in people with compromised immune systems, such as those in cancer treatment; they are some of the few immune cells that can survive chemotherapy.
Belz says that changing the way the appendix is regarded—from vestigial to integral—may also help prevent unnecessary appendix operations. More.
But didn’t we know this?
See also: Appendix, no “vestigial organ,” is a safe house for useful bacteria, researcher says
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