Lymphatic System

As blood circulates under pressure, its fluid component (plasma) seeps through the thin wall of the capillaries into the surrounding tissue. Much of this fluid, called interstitial fluid, returns to the blood through the capillary membranes. The remainder of the interstitial fluid, now called lymph, flows from the spaces in connective tissue into a network of tiny open lymphatic capillaries and then into a series of pro-

Figure Lymphatic Vessels

FIGURE 2-16

Lymphatic vessels. Small lymphatic capillaries opening into the tissue spaces pick up interstitial tissue fluid and carry it into progressively larger lymphatic vessels, which carry the fluid, now called lymph, into regional lymph nodes. As lymph leaves the nodes, it is carried through larger efferent lymphatic vessels, which eventually drain into the circulatory system at the thoracic duct or right lymph duct (see Figure 2-13).

FIGURE 2-16

Lymphatic vessels. Small lymphatic capillaries opening into the tissue spaces pick up interstitial tissue fluid and carry it into progressively larger lymphatic vessels, which carry the fluid, now called lymph, into regional lymph nodes. As lymph leaves the nodes, it is carried through larger efferent lymphatic vessels, which eventually drain into the circulatory system at the thoracic duct or right lymph duct (see Figure 2-13).

gressively larger collecting vessels called lymphatic vessels (Figure 2-16).

The largest lymphatic vessel, the thoracic duct, empties into the left subclavian vein near the heart (see Figure 2-13). In this way, the lymphatic system captures fluid lost from the blood and returns it to the blood, thus ensuring steady-state levels of fluid within the circulatory system. The heart does not pump the lymph through the lymphatic system; instead the flow of lymph is achieved as the lymph vessels are squeezed by movements of the body's muscles. A series of one-way valves along the lymphatic vessels ensures that lymph flows only in one direction.

When a foreign antigen gains entrance to the tissues, it is picked up by the lymphatic system (which drains all the tissues of the body) and is carried to various organized lymphoid tissues such as lymph nodes, which trap the foreign antigen. As lymph passes from the tissues to lymphatic vessels, it becomes progressively enriched in lymphocytes. Thus, the lymphatic system also serves as a means of transporting lymphocytes and antigen from the connective tissues to organized lymphoid tissues where the lymphocytes may interact with the trapped antigen and undergo activation.

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Responses

  • henna
    What tiny devices in the lymphatic vessels ensure that the flow is oneway?
    8 years ago

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