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Lungs supply the body with oxygen - and with blood
Every organ in the human body fulfills an important function. The lungs, for example, are responsible for the supply of oxygen. However, researchers have now discovered that that's not all. They found that the respiratory system also produces blood.
Blood formation, especially in the bone marrow
An adult has about five to six liters of blood, which supplies the cells with nutrients and oxygen and transports breakdown products to the excretory organs. Blood cells have a limited lifespan, so new blood cells have to be formed all the time. The majority of it is formed in the bone marrow. But researchers from the United States have now discovered that blood is also produced in the lungs.
Lungs not only provide the body with oxygen
The lungs ensure that our body is supplied with oxygen. But the organ can obviously do even more.
Scientists from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) report in the journal "Nature" that the lungs can also produce blood - and quite a lot.
In an experiment with mice, the experts discovered that the lungs produce over ten million platelets from megakaryocytes within an hour.
The US researchers suspect that the megakaryocytes arise in the bone marrow and start producing platelets in the lungs.
Observation in mice
The scientists now assume that the lungs also play a role in blood formation in humans.
"These findings definitely point to a more complex view of the lungs - that they are not only there for breathing, but also play an essential role in the formation of blood," said Mark R. Looney of the UCSF in a statement from the university.
"What we observed here in mice strongly suggests that the lungs can also play a key role in blood formation in humans."
However, the findings are not entirely new. Years ago, scientists wrote in the journal "Pneumologie" that in rare cases people could develop blood in the lungs.
At the time, the scientists reported on the case of a patient who had osteomyelofibrosis and in whom blood formation in the lungs was observed. (ad)