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Biomed Res. 2008 Dec;29(6):289-96.

Topographic study on nerve-associated lymphatic vessels in the murine craniofacial region by immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy.

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Department of Oncological Science, Faculty of Medicine, Oita University, Hasama-machi, Yufu-shi, Oita, Japan.


The distribution and fine structure of lymphatic vessels associated with nerves was studied by immunohistochemistry in the murine craniofacial region. The tissue sections and blocks were immunostained for LYVE-1, protein gene product 9.5, CD34 and aquaporin-1 to demonstrate the lymphatic vessels, nerves, blood vessels and water channel protein, respectively. Transmission electron microscopic examination was also performed to investigate the relationship between the lymphatics and nerves. In the nasal area, the lymphatics were found in dura mater on the cribriform plate and beneath the nasal mucosa, this supposedly supplying the cerebrospinal fluid drainage route along the olfactory nerves. The proximal portions of the cranial nerves were equipped with the lymphatics in the epineurium. In the distal portions of the nerves, the lymphatics were distributed in close proximity of the perineural sheath, and thus might contribute to maintenance of microenvironment suitable for the nerves by an absorptive activity of the lymphatic endothelial cells. The present findings suggest that the lymphatic system associated with the cranial nerves provides the pathway for transport of cerebrospinal fluid, tissue fluid, and free cells involved in immune response and tumor metastasis in the craniofacial region.

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