The importance of lymphatics in cerebrospinal fluid transport

Lymphat Res Biol. 2003;1(1):41-4; discussion 45. doi: 10.1089/15396850360495682.


Despite the fact that the central nervous system parenchyma does not contain lymphatics, extracranial lymphatic vessels play a very important role in volumetric cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) transport. The most important extracranial location at which lymphatics gain access to CSF is in the nasal submucosa after CSF convects through the cribriform plate. At relatively low intracranial pressures (ICPs), the majority of cranial CSF absorption occurs through this pathway. Global CSF transport parameters in the late gestation fetus and adult sheep are very similar, even though significant numbers of arachnoid projections seem to exist only in the adult. Therefore, extracranial lymphatic vessels play an important role in CSF transport before birth and may represent the primary mechanism for CSF absorption in the neonate. Based on these considerations, hydrocephalus may involve reduced CSF transport to, or into extracranial lymphatic absorption sites.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Arachnoid / physiology*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lymphatic System / physiology*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pressure
  • Time Factors
  • Water


  • Water