Lymphatic & Immune System

A deficiency shows are slow, sluggish to respond. There are no problems with excess…we understand that to be a good thing.

From the heart to the smallest capillary, the cardiovascular system is lined with endothelial cells that maintain a strong charge that repels blood proteins and corpuscles towards the center of the blood. This allows (in the capillaries) the serum to separate and flow out through the crypts between the capillary cells and into the interstitial fluid (actually a starch hydrogel). Most of this fluid is reabsorbed back into the capillaries as they leave the tissue and drain into the venous blood. The old physiology axiom still holds that blood feeds the lymph and lymph feeds the cells.

Some of the exiting serum, carrying disorganized junk too large to fit back
into the blood vessels, drains into open ended lymph capillaries. These in turn join to form lymph vessels (complete with valves). This is the back-alley garbage collecting system of the circulatory system.

As the lymph vessels move into the centre of the body, the lymph passes through nodes where the junk is digested and sorted through to check for bacteria, toxins, and known antigens.

In the small intestines, lymph capillaries absorb dietary fat that has been organized by the intestinal wall, carrying it completely out of the bloodstream for slower and less disruptive metabolism. The lymph drains into a large vessel, the thoracic duct, which, after many hours of perusal and cleansing, finally drains the lymph back into the venous blood where it belongs.

The immune responses occur variously in in the lymph, the blood, and the tissues. These can be separated into two categories: innate and acquired immunity. Innate immunity is nonspecific and genetically programmed, and consists of reactions that induce inflammation, phagocytosis (WBC digestion of waste) and some chemical responses. This is carried out by the granulocytes, neutrophils, basophils, mast cells, macrophages and eosinophils.

Acquired immunity has a learned memory of previously encountered foreign proteins, held mostly in the Iymph nodes, and manifested by a whole other group of white blood cells called lymphocytes. When microorganisms or large toxins are digested by macrophages, large particles of digested “marker” protein (epitopes) are worn on their membranes. If these markers have been previously encountered, lymphocytes are cloned to directly respond to, and kill, the organism that bears them, or to make antibodies out of immunoglobulins as specific “antidotes” (antibodies) for the foreign molecules. Well organized lymph drainage into lymph tissue results in a quick acquired immunity response, and speeds up the cleaning of debris when tissues need innate immunity responses, such as with a bruise.

Although grossly oversimplified, this is the gist of the lymphatic.

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