File:Spleen structure 01.jpg

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Spleen Structure and Cell Distribution

Schematic representation of the organization of the spleen (left panel).
  • The white pulp consists of T cell (lymphocyte) zones (also known as the periarteriolar lymphoid sheath (PALS)) containing networks of fibroblastic reticular cells (FRC) surrounding a central arteriole, together with B cell follicles containing a central network of follicular dendritic cells (FDC).
  • Marginal zones (MZ) surrounding the white pulp contain marginal reticular cells (MRC), particularly at the edges of the B cell follicles.
  • Blood and leukocytes entering the spleen pass through branches of the central arteriole, which end in the marginal sinuses and red pulp.
  • In the cords of the red pulp, a dense network of reticular fibroblasts and fibres construct an open blood network, which is marked by its lack of a typical endothelial cell lining.
  • Large numbers of macrophages phagocytose dying or damaged red blood cells in the red pulp (not shown).
  • Immune cells enter the white pulp at regions where the T cell zones abut the MZ, known as the MZ bridging channels.
An image of a section of mouse spleen generated using multicolour immunofluoresence microscopy illustrates the organization of the white pulp, red pulp, and MZ (centre panel).
  • The distribution of cells:
    • T cells - (white) CD3+
    • B cells - (blue) B220+
    • macrophages - (cyan) CD169+ MZ
    • dendritic cells - (green) (DCs) CD11c+
    • stromal cells - (red) ER-TR7+
  • The distinct organization of stromal cells in different regions of the spleen is shown by single-colour immunofluoresence staining (right panel).
  • Networks of stromal cells and reticular fibres form in the white pulp, including the fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) in T cell zones, follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) in B cell follicles (ER-TR7−) and marginal reticular cells (MRCs) in the MZ.
  • A dense network of stromal cells and reticular fibres is present in the red pulp.

Scale bars represent 130 μM.

Spleen Development: SH Lecture Spleen | SH Adult Histology | Overview Red and White Pulp | Overview Red and White Pulp | Cords and Sinuses | Reticular Fibre overview | Reticular Fibre detail | unlabeled red and white pulp | unlabeled red pulp and macrophages | unlabeled white pulp germinal centre | unlabeled reticular fibre | unlabeled white pulp reticular | unlabeled red pulp reticular | Structure cartoon | Cartoon and stain | Category:Spleen | Histology Stains | Immune System Development


Mueller SN & Germain RN. (2009). Stromal cell contributions to the homeostasis and functionality of the immune system. Nat. Rev. Immunol. , 9, 618-29. PMID: 19644499 DOI.




Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2021, November 28) Embryology Spleen structure 01.jpg. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2021, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G

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