Related Terms

  • 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.

Background

  • 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.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    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.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    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.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • 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.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • 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

    • Spleen extract is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • 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.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    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 . Selected references are listed below.

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    View Abstract
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    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • Kubo S, Roh MS, Oyedeji C, et al. Effect of tuftsin on human Kupffer cell. Hepatogastroenterology 1998;45(24):2270-2274.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
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    View Abstract
  • Nishioka K, Wagle JR, Rodriguez T, et al. Studies of human granulocyte phagocytosis stimulation by tuftsin. J.Surg.Res. 1994;56(1):94-101.
    View Abstract
  • Otsuka T, Niho Y. [Congenital familial tuftsin deficiency]. Ryoikibetsu.Shokogun.Shirizu. 1998;(21 Pt 2):67-69.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract