Unveiling the Wonders of the Lymphatic System: A Comprehensive Exploration

Unveiling the Wonders of the Lymphatic System: A Comprehensive Exploration

The lymphatic system is composed of the lymphatic vessels and the lymphatic tissues. These include the lymph nodes, the thymus gland (thymus), the spleen (lien) and the tonsils (tonsillae). 

The lymphatic system is a network of fine vessels that work closely with the blood vessel system. The lymph vessels remove excess cell fluid, foreign substances and metabolic products from the body tissue. In this way, the lymphocytes constantly circulating in the body keep the defence mechanism going.

lymph vessels

Lymphatic fluid is transported through lymphatic vessels, which, unlike blood vessels, do not form a closed system. Lymph nodes are located in some parts of the lymph vessels. 

The lymph vessels run alongside the arteries and veins. They have a fragile, porous wall that allows bacteria, larger molecules, and particles to be removed from the tissues in addition to excess cell fluid. Similar to the veins, the larger lymph vessels have backflow valves that prevent lymph fluid from flowing back into the tissue. Almost all body tissues have lymphatic vessels. This does not include the central nervous system, bones, cartilage and teeth.

The aqueous lymph fluid – a blood plasma product – flows through all soft body tissues via its capillary system and has a cleansing function. Their composition varies depending on the body region. For example, while the lymph from the intestines is very fatty, the lymph from the limbs is high in protein.

Some lymphocytes circulate in the blood vessels, forming the lymphatic system in the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes serve as filter stations where pathogens and foreign bodies are caught and harmless.

lymphocytes

The human body has two types of lymphocytes (“memory cells”): T and B. The lymphocytes can “remember” the structure of specific infectious agents. A sufficient number of immunocompetent lymphocytes causes these agents to be destroyed as soon as they have entered the body. This means that the person is immune in such cases and, therefore, in particular ones, infections can only occur once. This principle is adopted by vaccination. When vaccinated, a small amount of specific pathogens is artificially introduced into the body, which causes the development of immune-competent lymphocytes.

The T lymphocytes originate in the lymph nodes and attack bacteria and foreign bodies directly. In doing so, they store the negative imprints of the foreign cell surfaces (antigens) and, with the support of the T helper cells, transmit them to other T lymphocytes, which can also destroy the foreign cell surfaces. This process is called a cellular immune response.

The bone marrow (medulla ossium) forms the B lymphocytes in the plasma. Like T-lymphocytes, they have a specific chemical memory that forms the basis for what is known as humoral immunity. This means that plasma cells produce substances dissolved in the plasma as antibodies after contact with a non-self antigen.

almonds

The tonsils are part of the lymphatic pharyngeal ring. They are almond-shaped tissue islands at the beginning of the air and food pathways. Their function needs to be clearly defined, but it is assumed that they play a role in the defence against infection. 

Another accumulation of lymphatic tissue is located in the roof of the throat behind the inner nostril. The tonsils and lymphatic tissue have numerous defence cells. Together with the lymph vessels, they form the body’s defence system.

spleen

The spleen is a soft, spongy organ. Like the lymph nodes, it filters blood, discarding old blood cells and forming new ones. The spleen lies under the left diaphragm in the upper abdomen and weighs about 200 grams. Various diseases can cause it to swell to a weight of two kilograms. 

A connective tissue capsule encloses the soft, red spleen tissue. On their surface are clusters of lymphocytes called Malpighian bodies.

The splenic artery, which supplies blood, branches into arterioles. These open into a network of gap spaces in the spleen, which is doubly important for the filtering process.

In the first stage of life, the spleen plays a vital role in forming red blood cells. In adults, the bone marrow takes over this function.

Thymus

The thymus, also called sweetbreads, is located just behind the breastbone. It grows until puberty, when it reaches its greatest extent, and then continuously regresses. It is only present as a small piece of tissue in older adults. 

The thymus plays a crucial role in building and shaping the immune system by producing specific white blood cells. Later, the lymph nodes, bone marrow and spleen take over this function.

  

 

 

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