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Lymphatics in the Brain
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Functions Lymphatics in the Brain
For a long period of time, biological science students have been taught that brains of mammals have no lymphatic vessels that should protect the brain from any infection. The brain is always considered to be “immune privilege, as it was believed that it was separated from other parts of the body system by blood-brain barrier. However, the discovery of Louveau and his colleagues that the brain has lymphatic vessels has changed the tradition concept about the central nerve system (Siwicki, 2016). The researchers shocked the world when they published their findings in the Nature that they discovered lymphatic in the brain after closely examining the brain of a mouse. The finding has been confirmed by other researchers. The paper, therefore, focuses on the functions of lymphatic on the brain.
Lymphatic vessels are found in all parts of the body of mammals and they act as highway of immune system (Nutt, 2015). They help in the immune surveillance of various parts of the body and they ensure that there is specific immune response in any part of the body that needs their protection. Lymphatics resemble blood cells only that they carry immune cells in the form of lymph (Oliver and Detmar, 2002). The main function of lymphatic system is to drain fluid from body tissues, which helps in alerting the immune system to fight pathogens (Ford, 2016).
Therefore, like any other part of the body, the main function of lymphatics in the brain is to drain fluid to boost the effectiveness of immune system. This was confirmed by Louveau and his fellow researchers when they injected a dye into mice. They observed that lymphatic vessels conveyed fluids and immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) along veins that are located in the sinuses to cervical lymph. The observation confirmed that lymphatic helps in the drainage of fluid from the brain after it has passed through CSF and glymphatic system. Its major role therefore, is to act as the second step in the drainage of fluid in the brain.
Lynphatic vessels play a role of draining the central nervous system alongside its arteries, veins and cranial nerves (University of Helsinki, 2015). Lymphatic vessels help in the macromolecules from brain parenchyma. In addition, they have the potential of draining fluorescent dyes that have been injected into the central nervous system (Aspelund et al., 2015). Besides, they also drain fluids that are found in the brain environment (Ford, 2016). Therefore, lymphatic vessels play an important function of draining fluid from the brain, which helps in boosting its ability to fight pathogens that may interfere with its normal functions.
The diagram below shows the presence of lymphatics in the central nervous system after it was discovered by scientists.
(Lymphatic Yoga Expert, 2015)
The green color in the above diagrams shows the presence of lymphatic vessels in the skull areas and in the central nervous system.
In conclusion, there are still a lot of studies aimed at exploring the roles of lymphatics in the brain and how it can affect the functioning of the central nervous system. The discovery has also encouraged more research on the cause of various mental disorders, especially the Alzheimer and brain tumor. Despites the fear that lymphatic vessels in the brain can be the potential cause of some of the brain disorders, they still serve important function in the brain.
Aspelund, A., Antila, S., Proulx, S.T., Karlsen, T.V., Karaman, S., Detmar, M., Wiig, H. and Alitalo, K., 2015. A dural lymphatic vascular system that drains brain interstitial fluid and macromolecules. The Journal of experimental medicine, 212(7), pp.991-999.
Ford, M.L., 2016. How Brains Are Drained: Discovery of Lymphatics Within the CNS.
Lymphatic Yoga Expert, 2015. The New Era of the Lymphatic System Arrived! Retrieved from http://www.lymphaticyogaexpert.com/the-new-era-of-the-lymphatic-system-no-longer- secondary-to-the-blood-vascular-system-arrived/
Nutt, E., 2015. Scientists find the brain’s missing ‘pipes’. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/brain-drain-missing-link- discovered-in-the-brain/2015/08/17/03df9332-44ef-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.html
Oliver, G. and Detmar, M., 2002. The rediscovery of the lymphatic system: old and new insights into the development and biological function of the lymphatic vasculature. Genes & development, 16(7), pp.773-783.
Siwicki, M., 2016. How a newly discovered body part changes our understanding of the brain (and the immune system).