The spleen performs a hemolytic function when an individual is afflicted with extrinsic hemolytic anemia, according to Healthline. Extrinsic, or acquired, hemolytic anemia is an autoimmune condition during which the spleen destroys healthy red blood cells.
The spleen usually removes broken down red blood cell fragments from the bloodstream, explains the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Inherited hemolytic anemia causes abnormal red blood cells due to faulty genes. The abnormal red blood cells break down prematurely and are removed by the spleen. An oversized spleen is another cause for extrinsic hemolytic anemia. Additional causes include infections, certain medications and blood transfusions.