Lymphatic Vessel Location in the Brain

Diagram of the structure of the brain showing likely location of lymphatic vessels–my interpretation. Illustration: Shutterstock

Discovery of A Classical Lymphatic System in the Brain Will Revolutionize Neuro-Immunology

Until now, it was thought that the brain lacked the type of classical lymphatic drainage found in the rest of the body. Even though it was known that the brain was monitored by immune cells it wasn’t understood how they got there and moved around.

Researchers at the University of Virginia Medical School have just discovered a functioning classical lymphatic system that serves the brain. In order to make this discovery a special technique for preparing and mounting brain tissue for microscopic examination was developed. Without this technique the presence of the brain’s lymphatic vessels would have been missed again. According to the researchers, the lymphatic structures in the brain are well-hidden which explains why they have remained undiscovered for so long.

The current work has been done primarily in mice, but similar structures in human brain tissues have already been identified. These findings will revolutionize our understanding of the connection between the central nervous system and the immune system, and has tremendous implication for the study of neuro-immunological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.


Loveau A, Smirnov I, Keyes TJ, Eccles JD, Rouhani SJ, Peske JD, Derecki NC, Castle D, Mandell JW, Lee KS, Harris TH, and Kipnis J. 2015. Nature. Jun 1. doi: 10.1038/nature14432. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26030524

University of Virginia Health System. “Missing link found between brain, immune system; major disease implications.” ScienceDaily. (accessed June 5, 2015).