Lymph Circulation in the Liver

Authors

  • Osamu Ohtani,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan
    • Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama, 930-0194 Japan
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    • Fax: 81-76-434-5010.

  • Yuko Ohtani

    1. Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan
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Abstract

The liver produces a large amount of lymph, which is estimated to be 25 to 50 % of lymph flowing through the thoracic duct. The hepatic lymphatic system falls into three categories depending on their locations: portal, sublobular, and superficial lymphatic vessels. It is suggested that 80 % or more of hepatic lymph drains into portal lymphatic vessels, while the remainder drains through sublobular and capsular lymphatic vessels. The hepatic lymph primarily comes from the hepatic sinusoids. Our tracer studies, together with electron microscopy, show many channels with collagen fibers traversing through the limiting plate and connecting the space of Disse with the interstitial space either in the portal tracts, or around the sublobular veins. Fluid filtered out of the sinusoids into the space of Disse flows through the channels traversing the limiting plate either independently of blood vessels or along blood vessels and enters the interstitial space of either portal tract or sublobular veins. Fluid in the space of Disse also flows through similar channels traversing the hepatocytes intervening between the space of Disse and the hepatic capsule and drains into the interstitial space of the capsule. Fluid and migrating cells in the interstitial space pass through prelymphatic vessels to finally enter the lymphatic vessels. The area of the portal lymphatic vessels increases in liver fibrosis and cirrhosis and in idiopathic portal hypertension. Lymphatic vessels are abundant in the immediate vicinity of the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and liver metastasis. HCCs expressing vascular endothelial growth factor-C are more liable to metastasize, indicating that lymphangiogenesis is associated with their enhanced metastasis. Anat Rec, 291:643–652, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary