Light and electron microscope observations of the lymphatic drainage units of the peritoneal cavity of rodents

Effy C. Tsilibary, Steven L. Wissig

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Fluid, particles, and cells are taken up from the peritoneal cavity by lymphatic drainage units, which, in the mouse and rat, are located along the peritoneal surface of the muscular portion of the diaphragm. The drainage units are composed of three specifically differentiated components: a lymphatic lacuna, a covering of lacunar mesothelium, and intervening submesothelial connective tissue. The units are drained by connecting lymphatic vessels that cross the diaphragm to empty into collecting lymphatic vessels running along the pleural surface of the diaphragm. The collecting lymphatics empty into parasternal lymphatic trunks. In this report, we briefly review critical features of the drainage apparatus and describe new observations, summarized below, about their structure. Around the rim of stomata, the mesothelial openings that lead into the lymphatic lacunae, plasma membranes of lacunar mesothelial cells and of lacunar enidothelial cells abut but are not linked to one another by recognizable junctional specializations. Lacunarendothelial cells often extend valve‐like processes that bridge the distal end of the channel beneath the stoma. The configuration of the endothelial processes may be complex. Occasionally, processes from fibroblasts in the submesothelial connective tissue adjacent to stomata make contact with the interstitial surface of lacunar endothelial cells. A discontinuous elastic layer in the submesothelial connective tissue spans the roof of each lacuna. Connecting and collecting lymphatics, which drain lymphatic lacunae, possess endothelial valves. Possible functions for each of these newly described structural features are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-207
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Anatomy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1987
Externally publishedYes


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