Tridimensional study of the deep cortex of the rat lymph node. II: Relation of deep cortex units to afferent lymphatic vessels



Recently, we reported that the deep cortex of the rat lymph node is formed of semi-rounded structures, the “deep cortex units,” contiguous to the peripheral cortex and bulging into the medulla. It was suggested that a unit represents an accumulation of lymphocytes centered on the opening of an afferent lymphatic vessel. To verify the proposal, we carried out a tridimensional analysis of serially sectioned rat nodes, fixed by perfusion and trimmed in such a way as to preserve their lymphatics. The tridimensional analysis revealed that a constant topographical relationship exists between the units and the openings of the afferent lymphatics. The results demonstrated that the topographical organization of the deep cortex of a rat node correlates with the distribution pattern of the opening(s) of its afferent lymphatic(s). The overall observations suggested the following explanation for the shape and topography of the units: factor(s) present in the lymph would spread in a radial manner from the opening(s) of an afferent lymphatic through the underlying cortex. The factor(s) would induce morphological modifications in the stimulated semi-rounded area which, in turn, would provoke a local accumulation of circulating lymphocytes.