Drugs A - Z
Generic Name: spleen extract
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Bovine spleen, predigested spleen extract, raw spleen, spleen, spleen concentrate, spleen factors, spleen peptides, spleen polypeptides, splenopentin, tetrapeptide tuftsin, tuftsin, tuftsin (L-prolyl-L-arginine), tuftsin (Thr-Lys-Pro-Arg), water-soluble spleen extract.
The spleen is a fist-sized organ located under the lower left side of the rib cage that removes worn-out red blood cells and platelets, produces certain types of white blood cells, and destroys bacteria and cellular debris. Spleen extract primarily comes from the spleens of cows or pigs.
The primary use of spleen extracts is after a splenectomy, or removal of the spleen. Preliminary studies indicate that spleen extract may stimulate the immune system in conditions such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, leprosy, Crohn's disease, and sickle cell disease. However, there are no high-quality clinical trials currently available on the use of spleen extract.
Some concern has been raised about the safety of spleen extract, as it is made of animal spleens, which may be infected with prion (proteinaceous infectious proteins) diseases. Although there are currently no available reports of diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE, or "mad cow disease") attributed to the consumption of spleen extract, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still cautions against use of any animal organ extract. It is not clear how the processing of spleen extract affects the transmission of these diseases.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, bleeding disorders, cancer, celiac disease, common cold, Crohn's disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, emotional disorders, fatigue, glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney), graft-versus-host disease (prevention), HIV/AIDS, Hodgkin's disease, immunomodulation, influenza, leprosy, leukemia, pulmonary (lung) conditions, quality of life in HIV patients, radiation side effects, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, sickle cell disease, spleen disorders (lymphoproliferative diseases), supplementation in preterm and very low birthweight infants, systemic lupus erythematosus (autoimmune disease), thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), vasculitis (inflamed blood vessels).
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for spleen extract. Nonetheless, 150-300 milligrams two or three times daily has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for spleen extract, and use in children is not recommended.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to spleen extract or its components, including tuftsin.
Side Effects and Warnings
In general, there is insufficient available evidence on the adverse effects of spleen extract. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions against the consumption of any dietary supplement made from animal glands or organs, especially from cows and sheep from countries with known cases of bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE, or "mad cow" disease) or scrapie. It is thought that these extracts may contain viable prions that could infect humans. Currently, there are no available reports of transmission of BSE through spleen extract.
Spleen extract is possibly unsafe when used in patients with bleeding disorders, or immune system disorders. It is also possibly unsafe when used from countries where bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE or "mad cow disease") has been reported.
Tuftsin, a component of spleen extract, has low toxicity. However, it may enhance the perception of pain. Tuftsin in spleen extract may also enhance immune function, and thus provide overly optimistic results of spleen functioning.
Tuftsin deficiency may cause impaired immunity and/or recurrent and severe infections of the respiratory system, skin, and lymph nodes, especially in symptomatic HIV-positive individuals. Tuftsin deficiency may be due to splenectomy, splenic hypofunction, or familial tuftsin deficiency syndrome.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Interactions with Drugs
Tuftsin may enhance the perception of pain. Patients taking analgesics or other pain reducing medication should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Based on laboratory study, the tuftsin in spleen extract may behave as a carrier of antibiotics in intracellular infections, and simultaneous administration of antibiotics and spleen extract may have a synergistic quality on this class of drugs. Caution is advised.
Tuftsin, found in spleen extract, may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Although not well studied in humans, spleen extract may interact with antifungal drugs, psychotropic drugs, immunomodulators or immunostimulants (such as bestatin). Spleen extract is also cautioned in patients taking medication for Hodgkin's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, cancer or leukemia.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Tuftsin may enhance the perception of pain. Patients taking analgesics or other pain reducing herbs or supplements should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Based on a lab study, the tuftsin in spleen extract may behave as a carrier of antibiotics in intracellular infections, and simultaneous administration of antibiotics and spleen extract may have a synergistic quality on this class of drugs.
Tuftsin, found in spleen extract, may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Although not well studied in humans, spleen extract may interact with herbs and supplements with antifungal effects, psychotropic effects, immunomodulating or immunostimulating effects. Spleen extract is also cautioned in patients taking herbs and supplements for Hodgkin's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, cancer or leukemia.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Ashley Brigham, PharmD (Northeastern University); J. Katherine Bryan, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Juliann Goodfriend, PharmD (Northeastern University); Thuy-Duong Le, PharmD (Oregon State University); Audrey Nealon, PharmD (Northeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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Corazza GR, Zoli G, Ginaldi L, et al. Tuftsin deficiency in AIDS. Lancet 1-5-1991;337(8732):12-13.
Kaur J, Khare S, Bhutani LK, et al. Enzyme immunoassay of phagocytosis stimulating tetrapeptide "tuftsin" in normal and leprosy sera. Int.J.Lepr.Other Mycobact.Dis. 1991;59(4):576-581.
Khare S, Bhutani LK, Rao DN. Quantitative assessment of tuftsin receptor expression and second messenger during in vitro differentiation of peripheral blood derived monocytes of leprosy patients. Mol.Cell Biochem. 1997;171(1-2):1-10.
Khare S, Bhutani LK, Rao DN. Release of reactive nitrogen intermediates from the peripheral blood-derived monocytes/macrophages of leprosy patients stimulated in vitro by tuftsin. Lepr.Rev. 1997;68(1):16-24.
Kubo S, Roh MS, Oyedeji C, et al. Effect of tuftsin on human Kupffer cell. Hepatogastroenterology 1998;45(24):2270-2274.
Lewis CJ. Letter to Reiterate Certain Public Health and Safety Concerns to Firms Manufacturing or Importing Dietary Supplements that Contain Specific Bovine Tissues. 11-14-2000.
Naim JO, Lanzafame RJ, van Oss CJ. The effect of anti-tuftsin antibody on the phagocytosis of bacteria by human neutrophils. Immunol.Invest 1991;20(5-6):499-506.
Nishioka K, Wagle JR, Rodriguez T, et al. Studies of human granulocyte phagocytosis stimulation by tuftsin. J.Surg.Res. 1994;56(1):94-101.
Otsuka T, Niho Y. [Congenital familial tuftsin deficiency]. Ryoikibetsu.Shokogun.Shirizu. 1998;(21 Pt 2):67-69.
Owais M, Ahmed I, Krishnakumar B, et al. Tuftsin-bearing liposomes as drug vehicles in the treatment of experimental aspergillosis. FEBS Lett. 7-12-1993;326(1-3):56-58.
Paulesu L, Di Stefano A, Luzzi E, et al. Effect of tuftsin and its retro-inverso analogue on the release of interferon (IFN-gamma) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) by human leucocytes. Immunol.Lett. 1992;34(1):7-11.
Trevisani F, Castelli E, Foschi FG, et al. Impaired tuftsin activity in cirrhosis: relationship with splenic function and clinical outcome. Gut 2002;50(5):707-712.
Zoli G, Corazza GR, D'Amato G, et al. Splenic autotransplantation after splenectomy: tuftsin activity correlates with residual splenic function. Br.J.Surg. 1994;81(5):716-718.
Zoli G, Corazza GR, Wood S, et al. Impaired splenic function and tuftsin deficiency in patients with intestinal failure on long term intravenous nutrition. Gut 1998;43(6):759-762.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.