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Clin Exp Immunol. 2012 Sep;169(3):205-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2012.04602.x.

Lymph node dissection--understanding the immunological function of lymph nodes.

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Institute of Functional and Applied Anatomy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.


Lymph nodes (LN) are one of the important sites in the body where immune responses to pathogenic antigens are initiated. This immunological function induced by cells within the LN is an extensive area of research. To clarify the general function of LN, to identify cell populations within the lymphatic system and to describe the regeneration of the lymph vessels, the experimental surgical technique of LN dissection has been established in various animal models. In this review different research areas in which LN dissection is used as an experimental tool will be highlighted. These include regeneration studies, immunological analysis and studies with clinical questions. LN were dissected in order to analyse the different cell subsets of the incoming lymph in detail. Furthermore, LN were identified as the place where the induction of an antigen-specific response occurs and, more significantly, where this immune response is regulated. During bacterial infection LN, as a filter of the lymph system, play a life-saving role. In addition, LN are essential for the induction of tolerance against harmless antigens, because tolerance could not be induced in LN-resected animals. Thus, the technique of LN dissection is an excellent and simple method to identify the important role of LN in immune responses, tolerance and infection.

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