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Arch Histol Cytol. 2003 Aug;66(3):261-72.

Fluid and cellular pathways of rat lymph nodes in relation to lymphatic labyrinths and Aquaporin-1 expression.

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Department of Anatomy, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Toyama, Japan.


The aim of the present study was to examine the organization of lymph fluid and cellular pathways and distribution of the membrane water channel Aquaporin-1 (AQP-1) in rat lymph nodes. Lymph fluid and cellular pathways within lymph nodes were examined by fluorescent protein tracer/confocal microscopy and by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), While the distribution of AQP-1 was studied immunohistochemically. Tracer studies showed the subcapsular sinuses continued directly at the hilum or via the intermediate sinuses to the medullary sinuses, and lymphatic labyrinths originating with blind-ends in the deep cortex drained into medullary sinuses. Afferent lymph tracers were also observed in node cortex interstitium. By SEM, lymphatic labyrinths appeared densely filled with lymphocytes and had few intraluminal sinus reticular cells, while medullary sinuses possessed well-developed networks of sinus reticular cells. The presence of many lymphocytes wedged in the walls of the lymphatic labyrinth suggested that lymphocytes migrate between the node parenchyma and lymphatic labyrinths. AQP-1 was distributed on the membrane of lymphatic endothelium and reticular cells as well as on both luminal and abluminal cell membranes of high endothelial venules (HEVs). Our SEM findings support the concept that lymphocytes migrate from the node parenchyma into lymphatic labyrinths in the deep cortex. The nodal distribution of AQP-1 plus the presence of a polarized distribution of ion pumps and/or ion channels in the HEV endothelium hypothesized in our discussion could explain the mechanism of the reported lymph-to-plasma fluid flux in lymph nodes and also facilitate the entry of afferent lymph antigens into the node cortex interstitium.

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