Splenic function in old age

Giovanni Ravaglia, P. Forti, F. Biagi, F. Maioli, F. Boschi, G. R. Corazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hyposplenism has been reported in elderly people. However, from previous studies, it was not clear whether the observed alterations in splenic function were a physiologic effect of advanced age itself or a consequence of age-related diseases. As hyposplenism is believed to predispose to infections, autoimmune phenomena and thrombosis, this question is of great clinical concern. In the present study splenic function was assessed by counting the pitted red cells in 65 healthy subjects aged 50-108 years. At variance from previous studies, our study population consisted of free-living individuals carefully selected in order to exclude any underlying disease. The percentage of pitted red cells in 37 subjects over 70 years was significantly higher than in 28 younger subjects, although only 1 subject had a pitted red cell count indicating splenic hypofunction. A positive, but weak, correlation between the percentage of pitted red cells and age was also found when considering the whole population (r(s) = 0.273, p = 0.029). In conclusion, although slightly reduced with advancing age, splenic function seems basically to be maintained in elderly people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-94
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Ageing
  • Pitted red cells
  • Splenic function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing


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