Research Suggested 'Appendix' May Play An Important Role In The Body

Research Suggested 'Appendix' May Play An Important Role In The Body

Once thought to be a useless organ, scientists now believe the small, tube-like appendix serves many important functions in the human body and protects the body's internal environment from infection.

The appendix is prone to painful inflammation, known as appendicitis, and must be surgically removed in some cases.

According to researchers at Midwestern University in the US state of Arizona, it is commonly regarded as a useless, vestigial organ, but it may actually serve as a reservoir for beneficial gut bacteria.

The appendix is an 8-10 cm pouch located near the junction of the large and small intestines. Doctors have been debating the organ's exact function for years, as removal causes no noticeable symptoms.

According to new research, the appendix may be a haven for the good bacteria that live in our digestive tract and plays an important role in maintaining our immune systems and strengthening the brain-gut connection. Good bacteria are necessary for digestion and disease prevention. The body works hard to keep a delicate balance, including the right bacteria mix in our "gut microbiome."

Heather F. Smith, Ph.D., an associate professor at Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, has investigated the evolution of gastrointestinal traits in various animal species. Her new study, published in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol, looked at whether or not an appendix was present in 533 different mammals.

Some animals, such as primates, wombats, and rabbits, have an appendix, whereas dogs and cats do not.

She discovered that the appendix evolved more than 30 times independently in different genetic and almost never vanished from an evolutionary lineage once it appeared. According to her, this suggests that the organ is still present for a reason—an adaptive purpose.

According to researchers, When we get sick, such as from diarrhea or a stomach illness, our bodies lose a lot of good bacteria found on the GI tract's lining and white blood cells and other immune cells that fight infection. The appendix acts as a "safe house," protecting good bacteria during infection and repopulating the GI tract once the infection is gone.

However, because of improved hygiene practices, fewer of these good bacteria are required in modern society, explaining why the appendix has earned a reputation as a useless organ.

Several biologists believe that the appendix is a vestigial or evolutionary remnant that our herbivorous ancestors once used. It was discovered that the appendix is comparatively larger in herbivorous vertebrates and aids in the digestion of tough herbivorous food such as tree bark.

According to some studies, ancient humans used their appendixes for digestion because they were primarily herbivorous. However, as humans evolved, they began to eat more easily digestible foods, and the appendix eventually lost its function.

In his books On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin references vestigial organs in the human body that were left over as the human species evolved. These evolutionary remnants, according to Darwin, represent a function that was critical for survival in the past but became extinct over time.

However, as scientists learn more about the appendix's function, some doctors are turning to more conservative treatment approaches to save the appendix so that it can continue to play its role in boosting the good bacteria in our gut. Antibiotics may be the only treatment required in uncomplicated cases of appendicitis.

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