Conserved meningeal lymphatic drainage circuits in mice and humans

J Exp Med. 2022 Aug 1;219(8):e20220035. doi: 10.1084/jem.20220035. Epub 2022 Jul 1.


Meningeal lymphatic vessels (MLVs) were identified in the dorsal and caudobasal regions of the dura mater, where they ensure waste product elimination and immune surveillance of brain tissues. Whether MLVs exist in the anterior part of the murine and human skull and how they connect with the glymphatic system and extracranial lymphatics remained unclear. Here, we used light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) imaging of mouse whole-head preparations after OVA-A555 tracer injection into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and performed real-time vessel-wall (VW) magnetic resonance imaging (VW-MRI) after systemic injection of gadobutrol in patients with neurological pathologies. We observed a conserved three-dimensional anatomy of MLVs in mice and humans that aligned with dural venous sinuses but not with nasal CSF outflow, and we discovered an extended anterior MLV network around the cavernous sinus, with exit routes through the foramina of emissary veins. VW-MRI may provide a diagnostic tool for patients with CSF drainage defects and neurological diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glymphatic System* / diagnostic imaging
  • Glymphatic System* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic System
  • Lymphatic Vessels* / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Meninges / diagnostic imaging
  • Mice