Lymphatic System

Human anatomy > Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is one important system in the body responsible for several physiological functions.  It is composed of the conducting tissues and the lymphoid organs, which perform a variety of important immune system functions. The primary lymphoid organs are the bone marrow and the thymus. The immune system acts as the defense mechanism of the body against foreign and toxic substances.   

Lymphatic system

The Following are Functions of the Lymphatic System:

  • Produces and transports lymphocytes, dendritic and immune cells responsible for the immune system to tissues where they are needed.
  • They rid the body of foreign substances like cancer cells by trapping and destroying them.  If the cancer cells are too many, they may turn into tumors instead.  This is why the early treatment of cancer is indicated for a good prognosis.
  • Traps and destroys foreign microorganisms that enter the body. Just like cancer cells, when these are too many, they would need supportive methods such as therapeutic drugs and the like to cure the body of the condition.

Major Components of the Lymphatic System

Bone Marrow

The bone marrow is found inside major bones in the body like the vertebrae, ribs and similar bone structures. Important blood cellular elements are produced from this organ.  There are two types of marrow: the red marrow and the yellow marrow.

Red Marrow

The red marrow has an active role in hematopoiesis through the production of Red Blood Cells (RBCs), platelets and White Blood Cells (WBCs).  Monocytes and lymphocytes are types of WBCs that are agranulocytic (without granules).   The granulocytic (with granules) WBCs are eosinophils, basophils and neutrophils.  The primary WBCs involved in the immune system are the lymphocytes, or T-lymphocytes, in particular. They engulf bacteria and other foreign substances and eliminate them from the bloodstream.

Yellow Marrow

It acts as a spare tire, which contains fat deposits and can convert to yellow marrow when the body needs more cells to produce, like when a person needs massive amounts of blood because of blood loss. In children, the production of blood cells is still vital; hence, the yellow marrow remains a red marrow until such time that children’s  cellular production  is adequate by only the red marrow.

Conditions Associated with the Lymphatic System

Elephantiasis

This is an enlargement of the lymph nodes, specifically those at the genitals because of a bacterial infection, which enters the body through cuts and wounds. The primary causative agents of this condition are Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi. These are thin parasitic worms which can invade the body through open wounds.  You can prevent infection with this disease by avoiding dirty floodwaters. 

Lymphedema

This is characterized by swelling or edema of the lymph nodes with lymph fluid, which may be caused by bacterial infections and cancer.  Determination of the cause of the edema of the different lymph nodes will help in the treatment of the condition.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma

This is a cancer caused by the proliferation of lymphocytes in the lymph nodes.  The condition can spread and can cause similar occurrence in the other lymph nodes. Just like any type of cancer, there is a chance of recovery when the lymphoma is detected at an early stage.


© Copyright 2010-2014 MedicalTerms.info