The Cardiac Lymphatic System: An Overview

What does the lymphatic system do?
Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online The Cardiac Lymphatic System: An Overview file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with The Cardiac Lymphatic System: An Overview book. Happy reading The Cardiac Lymphatic System: An Overview Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF The Cardiac Lymphatic System: An Overview at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF The Cardiac Lymphatic System: An Overview Pocket Guide. Cells of the lymphatic capillary walls connect to each other in an arrangement in which they loosely overlap, forming flap-like structures. The flap-like structures have a similar appearance to valves, and are sometimes also called microvalves. The flap-like structures of the capillary wall connect directly to the surrounding structures organs or tissues , via thin, elastic fibres. The fibres connect only to the external surface of the capillary wall, leaving the internal surface unattached and able to move. While lymphatic capillaries are found throughout the body, they are more extensive in the legs compared to the arms.

Their concentration is dynamic and increases at times of inflammation, when too much interstitial fluid is in the interstitial spaces. The interstitial fluid must be absorbed into the lymphatic system to reduce inflammation, and in order to ensure the fluid is absorbed efficiently, new lymphatic capillaries grow in a process known as lymphangiogenesis.

Lymphangiogenesis enables the proliferation of lymphatic capillaries at the inflamed site resulting in more efficient drainage of fluid from the interstitial spaces. Lymphatic collecting vessels run throughout the body and connect to lymphatic capillaries. They grow successively larger as they increase their distance from the capillaries and reduce their distance from the heart. As they move towards the heart, lymphatic collecting vessels pass through thousands of lymph nodes which filter the lymph.

The collecting vessels are divided into sections by valves. There are two lymphatic ducts also called lymphatic trunks , ductus thoracicus left lymphatic, or thoracic duct and ductus lymphaticus dexter right lymphatic duct , respectively located in the left and right thoracic chest region. The two ducts connect the large lymphatic collecting vessels to the blood circulation via the subclavian veins which pump blood into the heart.

The ductus thoracicus connects to the left subclavian vein, while the ductus lymphaticus dexter connects to the right subclavian vein. The junction where the lymphatic ducts and subclavian veins meet is the only direct connection between the blood and lymph circulatory systems, and thus the only point where lymph can enter the blood circulation. Thousands of lymph nodes occur in clusters along the lymphatic vessels. They are particularly abundant in the lower abdomen, neck and armpits. Each lymph node connects to several afferent lymphatic vessels on one side known as the cortex and lymph enters the node through these connections.

Each node also connects to a smaller number of efferent lymphatic vessels on the other side known as the hilus and lymph exits the node through these connections. Lymph nodes can be separated into a fibrous outer capsule and an inner cortex of soft tissue. The cortex is segmented by strands called trabeculae, which are extensions of the fibrous capsule.

Lymph enters and travels through the lymph node cortex. The segments of the lymph node cortex support a dynamic changing population of lymphocytes. The lymphatic system as a whole supports an abundance of lymphocytes, with a collective weight of 1 kg in a 70 kg body. Each node also contains static unchanging collections of macrophages. Structures called follicles within the lymph nodes support static populations of B-lymphocytes antibody-producing lymphocytes.

Lymphoid tissue, also referred to as lymphoid nodules, is tissue that is dominated by the lymphocytes. A lymphoid nodule is usually about a millimetre in diameter, but as there is no capsule surrounding it, it is often hard to measure. Examples of these nodules include the gut-associated lymphatic tissue GALT cells as well as the tonsils. The lining of other hollow organs also contain patches of lymphoid tissue. Lymphoid organs are characterised by abundant lymphocytes and connective structural tissues. In addition to the lymph nodes they include:.

Functions of the Lymphatic System

While each of these organs and tissues fulfils protective immune functions which are related to the lymphatic system, the lymph nodes are unique amongst the lymphoid organs because they are the only organs with lymph filtering functions. The spleen is a blood-rich organ and the largest of the lymphoid organs.

It is usually purple in colour, and located in the upper-left section of the abdomen. The spleen is surrounded by the lining of the abdominal cavity on all sides except at the hilum, where the splenic artery and vein are located. The spleen lies behind to the stomach and in front of the diaphragm, near the left kidney. It is covered by a fibrous capsule which is thickest at the hilum, where the splenic artery and vein connect and transport blood into and out of the spleen. The spleen is composed of areas of red pulp and white pulp.

Most of the red pulp consists of loose tissues and blood capillaries. The splenic white pulp is made of two types of lymphocytes; T lymphocyte infection detecting and B lymphocyte antibody producing. The thymus is a lymphoid organ located in the lower section of the throat, overlying the heart. It receives a rich supply of arterial blood from the large arteries which connect to it. The veins which drain blood from the thymus connect to larger veins in the chest area. The thymus is divided into two lobes which each have an outer cortex and an inner medulla.

The cortex sections contain T lymphocyte stem cells, while the medulla contains mature T lymphocytes which have migrated from the cortex. The thymus also contains hormone producing cells. The lymphatic system commences development during embryogenesis the period from 4—8 weeks after fertilisation, in which the fertilised egg is called an embryo.

First, several tiny sacs called lymph sacs form. These continue to grow to form lymphatic capillaries, vessels and nodes. The vessels and clusters of nodes are visible by the 5 th week of embryo development the 7 th week of pregnancy which begins 2 weeks before fertilisation occurs.

However, while the foetus remains in the womb the lymphatic system remains underdeveloped and does not function. It is not until after childbirth when lymphocytes rapidly populate lymph nodes and immune functions commence.

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Before entering the lymphatic system, lymph is called interstitial fluid and consists mainly of a fluid called hyaluronan. This interstitial fluid plays an important role in giving shape and structure to the body organs, and in order to give each organ or body part the correct structure, the volume of interstitial fluid must remain constant. If interstitial fluid accumulates, swelling occurs and the shape and structure of the organ or body part changes. So although the lymphatic system is constantly absorbing interstitial fluid from the interstitial spaces, there is always a constant volume of interstitial fluid in a given interstitial space except for example in times of inflammation and swelling.

The lymphatic system only absorbs fluid when new fluid is leaked into the space to replace that absorbed into the lymphatic system. Absorption of lymph into the lymphatic vessels plays an important role in maintaining the correct amount of fluid in the interstitial spaces to ensure that swelling does not occur.


A considerable quantity of fluid leaks from the blood circulation each day. While the majority of leaked blood is reabsorbed by the blood vessels, up to 3 L per day remains in the spaces between tissues and becomes part of the interstitial fluid. Unless this fluid is absorbed by the lymphatic system, too much fluid will accumulate in the interstitial spaces and swelling will occur. Once an organ or body part is swollen, the process by which lymph and blood exchange their component parts becomes impaired.

This stops lymph and blood exchanging potentially dangerous components such as antigens e. It enables the dangerous substance to be localised kept within a particular area. While swelling is often a necessary immune response which prevents the spread of an antigen, in some cases the immune system functions irregularly, as swelling can occur when it is not needed to protect the body.

The key function of lymph is to transport blood components back to the blood stream and maintain the correct volume of blood circulation. Interstitial fluid is fluid which has leaked from the blood circulation and contains blood cells and proteins which are essential components of blood. Once absorbed into the lymphatic system, the interstitial fluid becomes known as lymph and travels through the lymphatic vessels to the subclavian veins where it re-enters the blood circulation and maintains blood volume.

Lymph is the substance in which escaped blood cells and proteins are collected and returned to the blood circulation. However, only a proportion of the interstitial fluid which enters the lymphatic capillaries will be returned to the blood stream as lymph; the remainder is broken down in the lymph nodes. An average human body weighing 65 kg contains approximately 12 litres of interstitial fluid and produces 8—12 litres of lymph each day.

Because gravity makes it harder for lymph to be transported from the legs and the lower half of the body, lymphatic capillaries which absorb lymph are more extensive in the legs compared to the arms. Lymphatic vessels connect to the subclavian veins, which are part of the blood circulatory system and connect to the heart.

Their key function is to transport excessive tissue fluid from interstitial spaces throughout the body back to the blood stream.


Interstitial fluid fluid entering the lymphatic system and afferent lymph lymph which has not yet passed through a lymph node contain 20—30 grams of protein per litre, whereas efferent lymph lymph which has passed through a lymph node contains 60 grams of protein per litre. To proceed, simply complete the form below, and a link to the article will be sent by email on your behalf. The left thoracic duct drains lymph from the remainder of the body and transports it to the blood circulation via the left subclavien vein. Now, scientists have identified a molecule that helps clear it from brain cells. The arteries sequentially branch and decrease in size and are called arterioles until they end in a network of smaller vessels called capillaries. Protein Families.

These vessels form a unidirectional system which always directs lymph toward the heart. The key function of the capillaries of the lymphatic system is to absorb fluid leaked from the blood vessels into the interstitial spaces. Known as interstitial fluid it is predominately water but contains a small amount of dissolved proteins and sometimes larger particles including debris e.


Together with blood vessels the lymphatic capillaries also function to ensure that circulation through the surrounding cells and tissues is sufficient to ensure each cell gets enough nutrients, and also to ensure the cells and tissues are drained so that the fluid balance is constant. The flap-like structures on the walls of lymphatic capillaries function to increase absorption when there is too much fluid in the interstitial spaces, and reduce absorption when the fluid level decreases. When fluid levels in the interstitial spaces increase, they create pressure which causes the flap-like structures of the capillary walls to open, allowing fluid to enter the lymph capillaries.

The flaps may open up to several micrometres. As the lymphatic capillary and vessel fill with fluid, pressure inside the capillaries increases. When pressure inside the lymphatic capillary increases above that in the surrounding interstitial space, the flaps in the capillary wall close, preventing the fluid which has been absorbed escaping back into the interstitial space.

Fluid is then pushed through the lymphatic capillaries to the collecting vessels. However, the lymphatic system does not have a central pump like the heart which pumps fluid through the blood vessels. In the lymphatic system, fluid is pushed by spontaneous contractions of the lymphatic capillaries and other lymphatic vessels.

These contractions are regulated by the nervous system and some hormones, and are the force which drives lymph through the lymphatic vessels. Collecting vessels transport lymph from the lymphatic capillaries to the lymphatic ducts, via numerous lymph nodes. Muscles in the walls of collecting vessels contract to push the lymph through the vessels. Contractions in the arteries and skeletal muscles, breathing, blood pressure and the volume of lymph in the lymphatic system also influence the rate at which lymph is pushed through the lymphatic vessels.

Valves along the walls of collecting vessels function to prevent the lymph from flowing backwards. Pre-nodal vessels transport afferent lymph to the lymph nodes. They also transport immune cells e. Dendritic cells, also called antigen presenting cells, present antigens to immune cells called T lymphocytes, which are capable of destroying but not recognising the antigens. T lymphocytes only recognise antigens when they are presented by dendritic cells. Dendritic cells circulate throughout the body via the blood and lymph circulation and they typically come into contact with the antigens they will present to the T lymphocytes in peripheral organs like the stomach and skin.

However, they do not present the antigens in the peripheral organs. Lymph nodes which contain abundant lymphocytes, provide the optimal environment for the presentation of antigens to T-lymphocytes. Thus dendritic cells and the antigens they wish to present must move into the interstitial spaces surrounding the organs and from there be absorbed into the lymphatic capillaries and transported to the lymph nodes via the afferent vessels.

Once in the lymph node they can be presented to the T lymphocytes for recognition and destruction. The right lymphatic duct transports lymph collected from the right arm, the right side of the head and the thorax, to the blood circulation, via the right subclavian vein.

The left thoracic duct drains lymph from the remainder of the body and transports it to the blood circulation via the left subclavien vein. Specific immune responses immune responses involving the production of antibodies to fight against a specific antigen are initiated in the lymph nodes, and antigen presentation by dendritic cells , recognition and destruction by T lymphocytes occur there. The lymph nodes are also the places where antibody-producing B lymphocytes undergo final maturation and begin to produce clone cells replicas.

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These may be either antibody-releasing plasma cells cells which recognise and produce antibodies against a specific antigen such as varicella virus which causes chicken pox or memory B lymphocytes those which remember specific antigens and enable the immune system to respond quickly the next time they encounter the antigen. Lymph nodes are immune system checkpoints at which lymph being transported back to the blood vessels is inspected and filtered of foreign matter, including antigens.


The heart is invested with a complex, intertwining network of blood and lymphatic vessels which, respectively, provide the cardiac tissue with oxygen and. Clin Anat. Sep;24(6) doi: /ca Epub Mar 8. The cardiac lymphatic system. Loukas M(1), Abel N, Tubbs RS, Grabska J, Birungi.

Particles such as viruses and bacteria generally cannot enter the blood stream directly via blood capillaries as the openings in the blood capillaries are too small for them to pass through. The lymphatic capillaries, however, have larger openings which are big enough to allow relatively large particles including microorganisms and cancer cells, to enter. Following entry to the lymphatic system these particles may travel to distant body sites and enter the blood stream where they can disperse and cause infection unless they are removed at the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes contain an abundance of B and T lymphocytes and macrophages which perform inspection and filtering functions.

As lymph travels through the lymphatic vessels to the heart, lymph passes slowly through lymph nodes allowing time for immune cells within the node to perform their protective functions. Typically lymph will be cleansed of foreign particles after flowing through several nodes. However, when the nodes are overwhelmed by high concentrations of foreign matter as when someone is ill due to infection , they become swollen, causing symptoms such as swollen glands. Cleansing efficiency of the nodes is reduced at these times, which means that more foreign matter passes through the lymph node and enters the blood.

As afferent lymph passes through a lymph node, the macrophages in it are removed. The processes by which lymph nodes clear macrophages and the fate of the millions of macrophages which vanish every day from a single lymph node weighing just 1 gram, is not well understood. A key function of the spleen which, like the lymph nodes, contains T and B lymphocytes as well as macrophages, is to filter blood of viruses, bacteria and other foreign matter.

It also destroys ageing red bloods cells and defective cells. This means that they cannot get through the small slits which filter blood in the spleen. The lymphatic system produces white blood cells, known as lymphocytes. There are two types of lymphocyte, T cells and B cells.

Lymphatic circulation

They both travel through the lymphatic system. As they reach the lymph nodes, they are filtered and become activated by contact with viruses, bacteria, foreign particles, and so on in the lymph fluid. From this stage, the pathogens, or invaders, are known as antigens. As the lymphocytes become activated, they form antibodies and start to defend the body. They can also produce antibodies from memory if they have already encountered the specific pathogen in the past.

Collections of lymph nodes are concentrated in the neck, armpits, and groin. We become aware of these on one or both sides of the neck when we develop so-called "swollen glands" in response to an illness. It is in the lymph nodes that the lymphocytes first encounter the pathogens, communicate with each other, and set off their defensive response. Activated lymphocytes then pass further up the lymphatic system so that they can reach the bloodstream.

Now, they are equipped to spread the immune response throughout the body, through the blood circulation. The lymphatic system and the action of lymphocytes, of which the body has trillions, form part of what immunologists call the "adaptive immune response.

Anatomy of the Circulatory and Lymphatic Systems | Microbiology

The lymphatic system can stop working properly if nodes, ducts, vessels, or lymph tissues become blocked, infected, inflamed, or cancerous. Cancer that starts in the lymphatic system is known as lymphoma. It is the most serious lymphatic disease. Hodgkin lymphoma affects a specific type of white blood cell known as Reed-Sternberg cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma refers to types that do not involve these cells. Cancer that affects the lymphatic system is usually a secondary cancer. This means it has spread from a primary tumor , such as the breast, to nearby or regional lymph nodes.

Sometimes, a lymph node swells because it becomes infected.

Anatomy of the Circulatory and Lymphatic Systems

The nodes may fill with pus , creating an abscess. The skin over the nodes may be red or streaky. Localized lymphadenitis affects the nodes near the infection, for example, as a result of tonsilitis. Generalized lymphadenitis can happen when a disease spreads through the bloodstream and affects the whole body. Causes range from sepsis to an upper respiratory tract infection. If the lymphatic system does not work properly, for example, if there is an obstruction, fluid may not drain effectively. As the fluid builds up, this can lead to swelling, for example in an arm or leg.

This is lymphedema. The skin may feel tight and hard, and skin problems may occur. In some cases, fluid may leak through the skin. Obstruction can result from surgery, radiation therapy , injury, a condition known as lymphatic filariasis, or—rarely—a congenital disorder.

The "swollen glands," that occur, for example, in the neck during a throat infection, are in fact enlarged lymph nodes. Reaction to an infection : The lymph nodes react when foreign material is presented to immune cells through the lymph that is drained from infected tissue. Direct infection of the lymph nodes : The nodes can become infected and inflamed as a result of certain infections that need prompt antibiotic treatment. This is lymphadenitis. Most people who have swollen glands with a cold or flu do not need to see a doctor.

Glandular fever : Also known as infectious mononucleosis , or mono, this is a viral infection that can one cause longer-lasting swelling, a sore throat , and fatigue. Tonsillitis : This is more common in children than in adults. It occurs when the lymph nodes at the back of the mouth are fighting infection, usually viral, but sometimes bacterial. Pharyngitis : This bacterial infection is commonly called " strep throat. Children are more prone to swollen lymph nodes because their immune systems are still developing their responses to infectious microbes.

In October , researchers found that the brain has lymphatic vessels , allowing it to process "waste" leaked from the blood vessels. This could provide new insight into the relationship between the brain and the immune system. In June , scientists announced that they had discovered a previously unknown lymphatic system that linked it to the central nervous system CNS and the brain. In May , researchers said that the lymphatic system may play a role in helping the heart to recover after a cardiac arrest. Article last updated by Yvette Brazier on Fri 23 February All references are available in the References tab.

About lymphoma. Alberts, B. The adaptive immune system. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 4th edition. Douketis, J. Overview of the lymphatic system. Introduction to the lymphatic system. Lymphatic system. The lymphatic system in immunity and cancer. Tidy, C, , March Generalised lymphadenopathy. MediLexicon, Intl. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

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Fast facts about the lymphatic system The lymphatic system plays a key role in the immune system, fluid balance, and absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients.

The Cardiac Lymphatic System

As lymph vessels drain fluid from body tissues, this enables foreign material to be delivered to the lymph nodes for assessment by immune system cells. The lymph nodes swell in response to infection, due to a build-up of lymph fluid, bacteria, or other organisms and immune system cells. Lymph nodes can also become infected, in a condition known as lymphadenitis. If lymph nodes remain swollen, if they are hard and rubbery, and if there are other symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Lymph nodes, or "glands" may swell as the body responds to a threat. The lymphatic system produces white blood cells, or lymphocytes that are crucial in fending off infections. Related coverage. Additional information. This content requires JavaScript to be enabled. Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead. Latest news Alzheimer's: Cell mechanism removes defective protein. Buildup of defective tau protein is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. Now, scientists have identified a molecule that helps clear it from brain cells.

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