How important is the appendix in the human body and what function does it have?

The appendix, which has a worm like appearance is a tube, connected to the cecum, which is the beginning of the large intestine, and it is closed from the other end. The pouch like structure of the colon is called the cecum. The appendix is found in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen, which is the junction of the large intestine and the small intestine. Since it looks like a worm it is also referred to as the vermiform appendix. This little organ is not just a part of the large intestine but is an independent organ itself having its own rich blood supply. It is found in almost all the mammals and this shows that it is of some importance in the physiology of mammals. It has been shrinking since evolution, which shows us that as we have evolved and the functions of our body changed, the use of this organ reduced to a great extent. It is known to have helped in the digestion of cellulose in the earlier forms of human beings. As our diet no longer contains cellulose it is believed that the appendix will gradually disappear from the human body as we continue to evolve. We have continued to inherit the appendix even though we no longer need it and its precise use is still unclear.

There is a great deal of lymphatic channels contained in the vermiform appendix that might support the good bacteria. Our body fights off the infections with the primary defense system of the white blood cells (WBC), which are produced by the lymph nodes. The vermiform appendix is connected to the large intestine that, houses a lot of good and bad bacteria. When the population of the bacteria gets out of control in it, the vermiform appendix helps to regulate it and bring it back to normal. Along with other parts of the body the vermiform appendix contain B-lymphocytes, which are the cells that manufacture many kinds of antibodies like:

  • IgA immunoglobulins: These antibodies are involved in the mucosal or surface activity. They are essential in maintaining a protective barrier between the blood stream and the bowel.
  • IgM and IgG immunoglobulins: These help to fight the infection causing invaders through the blood stream.

The vermiform appendix is a part of the gut associated lymphoid tissue or GALT system. At around two weeks after birth, when the large bowel begins to be colonized with the necessary bacteria the lymphoid follicles develop in the appendix. So its major function is probably in the neonatal period.

answered by M W

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