Background: The lymphatic vessels have been studied in different organs from a morphological to a clinical point of view. Nevertheless, the knowledge of the catecholaminergic control of the lymphatic circulation is still incomplete. The aim of this work is to study the presence and distribution of the catecholaminergic and NPY-ergic nerve fibers in the whole wall of the human mesenteric lymphatic vessels in order to obtain knowledge about their morphology and functional significance.
Materials and methods: The following experimental procedures were performed: 1) drawing of tissue containing lymphatic vessels; 2) cutting of tissue; 3) staining of tissue; 4) staining of nerve fibers; 5) histofluorescence microscopy for the staining of catecholaminergic nerve fibers; 6) staining of neuropeptide Y like-immune reactivity; 7) biochemical assay of proteins; 8) measurement of noradrenaline; 9) quantitative analysis of images; 10) statistical analysis of data.
Results: Numerous nerve fibers run in the wall of lymphatic vessels. Many of them are catecholaminergic in nature. Some nerve fibers are NPY-positive. The biochemical results on noradrenaline amounts are in agreement with morphological results on catecholaminergic nerve fibers. Moreover, the morphometric results, obtained by the quantitative analysis of images and the subsequent statistical analysis of data, confirm all our morphological and biochemical data.
Conclusions: The knowledge of the physiological or pathological mechanism regulating the functions of the lymphatic system is incomplete. Nevertheless the catecholaminergic nerve fibers of the human mesenteric lymphatic vessels come from the adrenergic periarterial plexuses of the mesenterial arterial bed. NPY-ergic nerve fibers may modulate the microcirculatory mesenterial bed in different pathological conditions.