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The Lymphoid tissue or Lymphatic Connective tissue is a reticular connective tissue infiltrated by lymphocytes, Lymphoid tissue can either exist as:
*recall that reticular fibers are made of type 3 Collagen
A- Diffused within the blood and tissue. B- As lymphoid nodules (spherical or ovoid shaped aggregation of the lymphatic tissue), composed mainly of B-Lymphocytes Whenever there is a pathogenic invasion leading to exposure to antigens the center of the lymphoid nodules lymphocytes undergo differentiation and mitosis resulting in a lightly stained area called the Germinal center , so the germinal center is the center of the lymphoid nodules where there is high mitotic activity. Germinal centers are characterized by the presence of a specific type of cell called Follicular Dendtric Cells which have the capability of binding antigens (foreign bodies) to its multiple surfaces, therefore retaining the antigens for extended periods allowing them (the antigens) to interact with B-Lymphocytes. (In other words the Germinal center has special cells called the Follicular Dendtric Cells which bind antigens to them allowing them to interact with B-lymphocytes, which makes antibodies to defend against the invading antigens).
Lymphoid nodules are present in many areas such as the mucosa associated lymphoid tissue, lymph nodes, spleen and the tonsils in addition to many other places. Images of the lymphatic tissue (histological slides) are impregnated with Silver to stain the Reticular fibers giving them a Black/Dark brown color, so these reticular fibers connect together forming a meshwork in the lymphoid tissue allowing the attachment of different cells mainly lymphocytes. In the Lymphatic tissue you can spot the Specialized reticular cells which produce the reticular fibers, you can also see macrophages, plasma cells (you can recognize them by the extrinsically placed nucleus).
There are of course lymph organs besides the lymphatic tissue, these organs can be split into two types:
A- Primary (central) lymphoid organs BSecondary (peripheral) lymphoid organs
The primary lymphoid organs are involved in the production and maturation of lymphocytes; primary lymphoid organs are the Bone Marrow, and the Thymus. Bone marrow produces B- Lymphocytes and the Thymus produces T-Lymphocytes, true the bone marrow produces both types of lymphocytes but before the TLymphocytes are fully mature they migrate to the thymus to completely mature there (which is why the thymus is considered a primary lymph organ).
All other lymphoid organs are secondary lymph organs, including: spleen, tonsils, appendix, nodules, the skin, and adenoids.
As we already mentioned the thymus is involved in the production of T-lymphocytes which are then supplied to the other organs. The thymus itself reaches complete maturity at birth, and then shrink (atrophied) after reaching puberty. The thymus has dual embryonic origin, its precursors Lymphoblasts originate in the bone marrow then they move to invade the epithelium of the thymus which is derived from the endoderm (embryo internal layer). They thymus is covered by a capsule composed of connective tissue, this capsule penetrated the parenchyma of the thymus dividing it into incomplete lobules, these extensions that are lowered from the capsule are called trabeculae (singular: trabicula).
Each lobule is composed of a Cortex and a medulla, because the lobules are incomplete the cortexes and medullas are continuous throughout the lobules.
A- The cortex contains cells such as the Thymocytes (T-lymphocytes), macrophages, epithelial reticular cells (the only type of reticular cell derived from the endoderm)... The cortex s capillaries and arterioles are surrounded by epithelial reticular cells, which are joined by occluding junctions, and the basement membranes of the arterioles are thicker forming what is called the blood thymus barrier which prevents circulating antigens from entering the cortex of thymus therefore protecting the maturing lymphocytes in the cortex. B- The medulla has less dense lymphatic tissue which has the epithelial reticular and lymphocytes. The Medulla of the thymus is characterized by having a unique cell structure found in it called Hassle's corpuscle these are *something* arranged epithelial reticular cells that are filled with keratin filaments and might undergo calcification.
In an Image of thymus you can see the connective tissue capsule, the trabeculae which divides the thymus into incomplete lobules, these lobules are composed of the cortex (darkly stained), and you can also see the central lightly stained medulla.
Micrograph of a thymic corpuscle. H&E stain.
There are more lymphocytes in the cortex then there are in the medulla. This here, the thymic corpuscle is characterizing the thymic medulla.
Cells seen in the thymic cortex of a skin section are seen as reticular epithelial cells also can see lymphocytes and other cells. Epithelial reticular cells are joined by the desmosomes.
You can see in the image of the thymic mudella, there is less dense lymphatic tissue having lymphocytes and other cells. You can also see the characterizing Hassall corpuscle cells which are filled with keratin and may undergo calcification.
In the Mucosa associated lymphoid tissue. The lymphoid tissues are in the mucosa layer (as you will learn later) which are called mucosa associated lymphoid tissue .
Functions of lymphoid tissue:
For protection against pathogens so you expect this tissue to be found in areas where invasionation of pathogens is common. Such areas are the digestive, respiratory and urinary tract.
Examples of the mucosa associated lymphoid tissue are the tonsils. There are three types of tonsils, located in different parts
1. 2. 3.
Palatine Lingual Pharyngeal
Palatine and lingual are covered my stratified squamous epithelium. Pharyngeal covered by pseudostratified columnar epithelium.
Lymph nodes is one of the secondary (peripheral) organs. It is involved in the transport of lymph. There are afferent and efferent lymphatic vessels. The lymph node is kidney shaped organ so they have convex surface and a depression/concave surface. Convex surface is the entering site of vessels and depression is the exiting site. Now remember when you say afferent it means entering vessels of any structure and efferent means existing any structure. At the concave site we have a hilum; the site where the efferent vessels leave the lymphatic node as well as the veins and the site where arteries and nerves enter.
Again the lymph node is involved in the lymphocyte proliferation and transformation into plasma cells which then produce anti-bodies and therefore involved in the immune response.
Lymph node consist of a capsule, surrounding the node which is made up of connective tissue, cortex, medulla, and intervening paracortex. The paracortex is between the cortex and medulla. The cortex consists of different
cells which are the reticular cells, lymphocytes. Of course you know there are the lymphoid nodules which are spherical of the lymphoid tissue.
Then you have the sub-capsular sinus which are the spaces just beneath the capsule. they are the spaces where the afferent vessels open. So they are the beginning of the lymphatic system of the lymph node. The sinuses are continuous with the cortical sinuses which are in the cortex between the lymphatic nodules.
Now the second part is the paracortex. In contrast to the cortex, the paracortex don t have lymphoid nodules but it has an accumulation of T-lymphocytes. Remember lymphatic nodules have B-lymphocytes but the paracortex in the nodules having the B-lymphocytes in the cortex. Paracortex doesn t have B-lymphocytes but has Tlymphocytes. So lymph node has both lymphocytes. B lymphocytes in the lymphatic nodule in the cortex and T lymphocyte in the paracortex.
There is something unique in the paracortex is the post capillary venules(high endothelial capillary/venules). This area has elongated endothelial cells and they facilitate diapedesis of the lymphocyte from the blood into the venules.
The medulla consists of the medullary cords which is lymphatic tissue extensions from the paracortex. Even though from the paracortex they consist primarily of B-lymphocytes not T-lymphocytes. Also there are medullary sinuses which are the dilated spaces which are continuous with the cortical sinuses. They deliver lymph to the efferent lymph vessels. They are the last sinuses of the lymphatic system in the lymph node after the lymph to be received from the afferent vessels.
How is the lymph transported through the lymph node?
The afferent lymph vessels enter the node and penetrate through the capsule of node then they open into the subcapsular spaces which then open into the cortical sinuses and again into subcapsular and cortical then into the medullary sinuses and finally delivered to the afferent vessels at the hilum.
The spleen is involved in the blood filtration. It provided defense again blood pathogens, destroys lymphocytes, produces antibodies and activated lymphocytes. It is covered by a connective tissue capsule and has two types of pulps
White pulp where different masses can be seen. It is composed of lymphoid nodules and composed of another area called periarticular lymphoid sheet, the sheet that surrounds the arterioles the central arterioles. Remember the outer most margin of the lymphoid nodules called the marginal zone, containing blood sinuses and lymphoid tissue. Now remember that the lymphoid nodules is where Blymphocytes are present in the spleen where the T-lymphocytes are in the periarticular lymphoid sheet
Red pulp composed of splenic cords and many venous sinuses. Splenic cords consists of reticular cellular fibers supporting the cells, such as lymphocytes plasma and macrophages. The venous sinuses are just spaces that are lined by the stab(36:33) cells which are specialized cells that are capable of selecting the healthy erythrocytes so it won t be destroyed by the spleen. The stab cells are elongated epithelium cells where as the cells in the high epithelium venules or post capillary venules are cuboidal cells. The sequence of the intrinsic blood vessels of the splenic bulb: The splenic artery enters the spleen at the hilum and branches into different splenic arteries and then branches in the trabicular(37:34) arteries then the central arterioles surrounded by the periarticular lymphatic sheet forming the white pulp then branches into the venicelur(37:56) artioles then into slightly developed capillaries and are sheeted by phagocytic cells macrophages then to capillaries then to the trabicular veins and finally to splenic vein and hilum.
The central arteriole is surrounded by the periarteriolar lymphatic sheet and the lymphatic nodule with a germinal center (B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes).
Amineh Al-Farraj & Ali Al-Qudsi