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Arch Histol Cytol. 2008 Sep;71(2):69-76.

Structure and function of rat lymph nodes.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.


The lymph node comprises a critical crossroad for encounters between antigen presenting cells, antigens from lymph, and lymphocytes recruited into lymph nodes from the blood. The node consists of spaces lined with lymphatic endothelial cells and parenchyma. The former spaces can be divided into the subcapsular sinuses, lymphatic labyrinths in the deep cortex, intermediate sinuses, and medullary sinuses. The sponge-like framework of the node parenchyma is composed of collagen fibers invested with reticular cells. The parenchyma can be divided into the cortex, deep cortex, and medullary cord. Lymphocytes migrate from the node parenchyma into the lymphatic labyrinths in the deep cortex. Close to the labyrinths are high endothelial venules (HEVs), through which circulating lymphocytes enter the node parenchyma. HEVs strongly express Aquaporin-1, suggesting that HEVs are involved in the net absorption of water, but not protein, from lymph coming through afferent lymphatics. Many LYVE-1 positive sinus reticular cells (i.e., lymphatic endothelial cells) with attached macrophages form a network within the lumen of the medullary sinuses. Fluids and migrating cells arriving at the node preferentially flow through the subcapsular sinuses, intermediate sinuses, and medullary sinuses in this order. Fluids and migrating cells may also enter the cortex through gaps in the floor of the subcapsular sinuses.

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