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N Engl J Med. 1981 Jan 29;304(5):245-50.

Opsonic requirements for intravascular clearance after splenectomy.


We investigated the opsonic requirements for intravascular clearance of pneumococci in guinea pigs and of sensitized erythrocytes in human beings after splenectomy. The impaired clearance of injected pneumococci in splenectomized guinea pigs was corrected by immunization. This improvement in clearance was due to increased hepatic sequestration of organisms. There was a significant delay in antibody-mediated clearance of autologous erythrocytes sensitized with IgG (P < 0.001), although the rate of complement-mediated clearance in splenectomized patients was normal. A fourfold increase in sensitizing antibody resulted in a significant improvement in clearance that was due to increased hepatic sequestration (P < 0.005). One patient who had an intact spleen and who had previously received Thorotrast (thorium oxide) had impaired antibody-mediated clearance despite increased sensitization. These observations suggest that, after splenectomy the remaining macrophages of the reticuloendothelial system require increased amounts of antibody to mediate efficient intravascular clearance of opsonized particles.

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