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It was previously assumed that bones lacked lymphatic vessels, but new research from the MRC Human Immunology Unit at Oxford's MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine not only locates them within bone tissue, but demonstrates their role in bone and blood cell regeneration and reveals changes associated with aging.

3D light sheet imaging of bones showing lymphatic and blood vasculature in a hand, vertebral column and sternum © Dr Anjali Kusumbe
3D light sheet imaging of bones showing lymphatic (green) and blood (magenta or red) vasculature.

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that branch out throughout the body, and play an important role in draining excess fluid from tissues, clearing waste products and supporting immune responses.

The fine network of lymph vessels extends throughout the body, but a small number of sites such as the brain, eye and bone were previously assumed to lack lymph tissue. The hard tissue of bone in particular has traditionally made studying the distribution and role of blood and lymph more difficult.

New research published today in Cell uses light-sheet imaging to overcome these barriers, identifying and visualising the lymphatic vessels of bone in high-resolution 3D. Researchers discovered an active network of lymph vessels within bone and further identified some of the key signals happening between lymph vessels, blood stem cells and bone stem cells.

Read the full story on the Medical Research Council Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) website. 

 

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