CSF drains directly from the subarachnoid space into nasal lymphatics in the rat. Anatomy, histology and immunological significance

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 1993 Dec;19(6):480-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2990.1993.tb00476.x.


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage pathways from the rat brain were investigated by the injection of 50 microliters Indian ink into the cisterna magna. The distribution of the ink, as it escaped from the cranial CSF space, was documented in 2 mm thick slices of brain and skull cleared in cedar wood oil and in decalcified paraffin sections. Following injection of the ink, deep cervical lymph nodes were selectively blackened within 30 min and lumbar para-aortic nodes within 6 h. Within the cranial cavity, carbon particles accumulated in the basal cisterns but were also distributed in the paravascular spaces around the middle cerebral arteries and the nasal-olfactory artery. Carbon particles in the subarachnoid space beneath the olfactory bulbs drained directly into discrete channels which passed through the cribriform plate and into lymphatics in the nasal submucosa. Although ink was distributed along the subarachnoid space of the optic nerves and entered the cochlea, the nasal route was the only direct connection between cranial CSF and lymphatics. Arachnoid villi associated with superior and inferior sagittal sinuses were identified and a minor amount of drainage of ink into dural lymphatics was also observed. This study demonstrates the direct drainage of cerebrospinal fluid through the cribriform plate in anatomically defined channels which connect with the nasal lymphatics.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / metabolism*
  • Cochlea / metabolism
  • Coloring Agents
  • Dura Mater / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymphatic System / anatomy & histology
  • Lymphatic System / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Nasal Cavity / anatomy & histology
  • Nasal Cavity / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Subarachnoid Space / anatomy & histology
  • Subarachnoid Space / metabolism*


  • Coloring Agents
  • chinese ink
  • Carbon