Local lymphogenic migration pathway in normal mouse spleen

Cell Tissue Res. 2009 Dec;338(3):423-32. doi: 10.1007/s00441-009-0888-5. Epub 2009 Nov 7.


Although the immunological and hemodynamical significance of the spleen is of great importance, few reports detail the lymphatic vessels in this organ. We have used an immunohistochemical three-dimensional imaging technique to characterize lymphatic vessels in the normal mouse spleen and have successfully demonstrated their spatial relationship to the blood vascular system for the first time. Lymphatic markers, such as LYVE-1, VEGFR-3, and podoplanin, show different staining patterns depending on their location in the spleen. LYVE-1-positive lymphatic vessels run reverse to the arterial blood flow along the central arteries in the white pulp and trabecular arteries and exit the spleen from the hilum. These lymphatic vessels are surrounded by type IV collagen, indicating that they are collecting lymphatic vessels rather than lymphatic capillaries. Podoplanin is expressed not only in lymphatic vessels, but also in stromal cells in the white pulp. These podoplanin-positive cells form fine meshworks surrounding the lymphatic vessels and central arteries. Following intravenous transplantation of lymphocytes positive for green fluorescent protein (GFP(+)) into normal recipient mice, donor cells appear in the meshworks within 1 h and accumulate in the lymphatic vessels within 6 h after injection. The GFP(+) cells further accumulate in a draining celiac lymph node through the efferent lymphatic vessels from the hilum. These meshworks might therefore act as an extravascular lymphatic pathway and, together with ordinary lymphatic vessels, play a primary role in the cell traffic of the spleen, additional to the blood circulatory system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / ultrastructure
  • Chemokine CCL21 / analysis
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Female
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / analysis
  • Lymphatic Vessels / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Spleen / ultrastructure*


  • Chemokine CCL21
  • Gp38 protein, mouse
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins