Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Splenic Views

3D virtual reality models reveal the human spleen's microcirculation is entirely open

18 November 2022

Splenic Views

Modern microscopy often aims to pull numbers out of life – quantifying details revealed by increasingly sophisticated techniques. But here researchers take a fresh approach to step inside human tissue and solve a mystery. First, they use pictures of human spleen tissue (left) to create a computer model (right), highlighting tiny blood vessels in blue and green. Next using virtual reality – they cast an expert eye on a strange quirk of the tissue. Normally blood flows through tissues in a closed loop, with tiny vessels called capillaries eventually connecting to veins. But the spleen has unusual microcirculation that is completely open (open ends highlighted in red) – blood cells flop out of capillaries into the tissue like children off a water slide, before later re-entering circulation around structures called sinuses (white structures, left). The team believe this flexibility helps splenic cells to weed out harmful chemicals and distribute useful ones for the blood to carry around the body.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.