High-resolution 3D imaging and topological mapping of the lymph node conduit system

PLoS Biol. 2019 Dec 19;17(12):e3000486. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000486. eCollection 2019 Dec.


The conduit network is a hallmark of lymph node microanatomy, but lack of suitable imaging technology has prevented comprehensive investigation of its topology. We employed an extended-volume imaging system to capture the conduit network of an entire murine lymph node (comprising over 280,000 segments). The extensive 3D images provide a comprehensive overview of the regions supplied by conduits, including perivascular sleeves and distinctive "follicular reservoirs" within B cell follicles, surrounding follicular dendritic cells. A 3D topology map of conduits within the T-cell zone showed homogeneous branching, but conduit density was significantly higher in the superficial T-cell zone compared with the deep zone, where distances between segments are sufficient for T cells to lose contact with fibroblastic reticular cells. This topological mapping of the conduit anatomy can now aid modeling of its roles in lymph node function, as we demonstrate by simulating T-cell motility in the different T-cell zones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Movement
  • Fibroblasts
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mice / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology

Grant support

Funding was provided by the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery (IK & PRD). GB, GBS, IJL, and AP received no specific funding for this work. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.