Lymphatic cerebrospinal fluid absorption pathways in neonatal sheep revealed by subarachnoid injection of Microfil

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2003 Dec;29(6):563-73. doi: 10.1046/j.0305-1846.2003.00508.x.


There is mounting evidence that a significant portion of cerebrospinal fluid drainage is associated with transport along cranial and spinal nerves with absorption taking place into lymphatic vessels external to the central nervous system. To characterize these pathways further, yellow Microfil was infused into the cisterna magna of 2-7-day-old lambs post mortem to perfuse either the cranial or spinal subarachnoid compartments. In some animals, blue Microfil was perfused into the carotid arteries simultaneously. Microfil was observed in lymphatic networks in the nasal mucosa, covering the hard and soft palate, conchae, nasal septum, the ethmoid labyrinth and the lateral walls of the nasal cavity. Many of these lymphatics drained into vessels located on the lateroposterior wall of the nasopharynx and from this location drained to the retropharyngeal lymph nodes. Additionally, lymphatics containing Microfil penetrated the lateral wall of the nasal cavity and joined with superficial lymphatic ducts travelling towards the submandibular and preauricular lymph nodes. In two cases, lymphatic vessels were observed anastomosing with deep veins in the retropharyngeal area. Microfil was also distributed within the nerve trunks of cranial and spinal nerves. The contrast agent was located in longitudinal channels within the endoneurial space and lymphatics containing Microfil were observed emerging from the mesoneurium. In summary, Microfil distribution patterns in neonatal lambs illustrated the important role that cranial and spinal nerves play in linking the subarachnoid compartment with extracranial lymphatics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology*
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Lymphatic System / anatomy & histology*
  • Sheep
  • Silicone Elastomers / administration & dosage
  • Subarachnoid Space


  • Silicone Elastomers