The Lymphatics

  • S. H. Aharinejad
  • A. Lametschwandtner


The lymphatic vessels develop secondary to the blood vessels either phylogenically or ontogenically. Amphibians and reptiles possess enormous lymph sacs or sinuses encircling the aorta and almost all other arterial and venous blood vessels in order to store water and prevent loss of heat through use of solar radiation. In birds and mammals, animals which can maintain the body temperature constant, the lymphatics become abruptly narrow and tubular, and tend to run independently from the blood vessels. Anastomoses between blood and lymphatic vessels also decrease. Ontogenically, the main lymphatic vessels and ducts of mammals arise directly by sprouting of venous endothelial cells of both sides of two junctions between the cervical and subclavian veins and between the caudal vena cava and renal vein. The openings at the latter communication site remain rarely as lymphatico-venous anastomoses. The lymphatic vessels are not distributed in all tissues and organs. Neither blood nor lymphatic vessels are present in the epithelium (excepted for stria vascularis of the inner ear), sclera, cartilage, or intima of blood vessels. The central nervous system is rich in blood vessels but does not contain internal lymphatics. The lymphatic capillaries are usually located at a distance from the blood capillaries in order to absorb tissue fluid that becomes filtered from the latter [1]. The neighboring endothelial cells of lymphatic capillaries are separated by a wide gap, which facilitates the passage of erythrocytes. After closure of the gaps, the lymphatic capillaries continue to absorb tissue fluid through intracellular pinocytotic vesicles; this mechanism is facilitated by almost absence of a basal lamina. Furthermore, pericytes are absent; anchoring filaments prevent the collapse of lymphatic capillaries [2]. The role of anchoring filaments as the sole structures reinforcing the lymphatics wall has found a wide acceptance, however, recent works increasingly favor the role of reticular fiber network of the basement lamina as additional wall structures supporting the lymphatic endothelium [13]. The collecting lymphatics and lymphatic ducts possess various amounts of smooth muscle fibers in rich connective tissue, contracting intrinsically. However, the major mode of lymph propulsion is passive, such as that occurring during massage or respiration. The presence of many valves is important for regulation of lymph flow [2, 3, 11].


Lymphatic Vessel Popliteal Lymph Node Lymphatic Capillary Casting Medium Venous Endothelial Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Sacchi G, Weber E, Comparini L (1990) Histological framework of lymphatic vasa vasorum of major arteries: an experimental study. Lymphology 23: 135–139PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kotani M (1990) Lymphatics, structure, function and physiology. Arch Histol Jpn [Suppl] 53: 1–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ryan TJ (1989) Structure and function of lymphatics. J Invest Dermatol 93: 18–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kobayashi S, Osatake H, Kashima Y (1976) Corrosion casts of lymphatics. Arch Histol Jpn 39: 177–181PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kuwabara S, Yajima Y, Yamane I (1975) Thyroid lymphography. GEKA 37: 1170–1175Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bloom H, Fawcett D (1975) A Textbook of Histology. Saunders, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gnepp DR, Green FH (1979) SEM of collecting lymphatic vessels and their comparison to arteries and veins. Scanning Electron Microsc/1979: 756–762Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Castenholz A (1989) Interpretation of structural patterns appearing on corrosion casts of small blood and initial lymphatic vessels. Scanning Microsc 3: 315–325PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Castenholz A (1986) Corrosion cast technique applied in lymphatic pathways. Scanning Electron Microsc 2: 599–605Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Castenholz A (1984) Morphological characteristics of initial lymphatics in the tongue as shown by scanning electron microscopy. Scanning Electron Microsc 3: 1343–1352Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Castenholz A, Zöltzer H (1989) Neue Erkenntnisse zur strukturellen Grundlage der Lymphbildung. Lymphologie 13: 23–31Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Castenholz A (1987) Die Rasterelektronenmikroskopie in der mikroangiologischen Forschung. Beitr elektronenmikroskop Direktabb Oberfl 20: 187–194Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Castenholz A (1987) Structural and functional properties of initial lymphatics in the rat tongue: scanning electron microscopic findings. Lymphology 20: 112–125PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Belisle C, Sainte-Marie G (1990) Blood vascular network of the rat lymph node: tridimensional studies by light and scanning electron microscopy. Am J Anat 189: 111–126PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Yoffey JM, Courtice FC (1970) Structure and function of lymph nodes. In: Lymphatics, lymph and the lymphomyeloid complex. Academic Press, London, pp 517–619Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Heath T, Brandon R (1983) Lymphatics and blood vessels of the popliteal node in sheep. Anat Rec 207: 461–472PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Aijima H, Hone K, Nagata H, Hoshi H (1986) Cortical structure of bovine lymph nodes. Acta Anat Nippon 61: 173–185PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Castenholz A (1983) Der menschliche Lymphknoten aus funktionsmorphologischer Sicht. Lymphologie 7: 57–72Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kardon RH, Kessel RG (1981) The microcirculation of lymphoid tissue in three dimensions: scanning electron microscopy of corrosion casts of the lymph node, thymus, and peri-rectal lymphoid tissue. Biomed Res [Suppl] 2: 173–179Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kowala MC, Schoefl GI (1986) The popliteal lymph node of the mouse: Internal architecture, vascular distribution and lymphatic supply. J Anat 148: 25–46PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Steeber DA, Erickson CM, Hodde KC, Albrecht RM (1987) Vascular changes in popliteal lymph nodes due to antigen challenge in normal and lethally irradiated mice. Scanning Microsc 1: 831–839PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. H. Aharinejad
    • 1
  • A. Lametschwandtner
    • 2
  1. 1.First Department of AnatomyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Experimental ZoologyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria

Personalised recommendations