The primary players include the red bone marrow, and the thymus. The secondary organs and glands include the tonsils, adenoids, spleen, appendix, Peyer's patches, lymph vessels and lymph nodes.
Let’s take a look at how each of these play a role:
Red Bone Marrow - site where B-lymphocytes mature (part of our immune system). Also where white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs) and platelets are produced.
Thymus – this is where T-lymphocytes (also part of the immune system; think fighter cells) mature.
Tonsils – act as a filter for bacteria and viruses; also produce antibodies. Think of them as guards or gatekeepers!
Adenoids – these work similar to the tonsils, acting as a filter for bacteria and viruses entering through the nose
Spleen – holding place for lymphocytes and other white blood cells – these help to filter foreign material out of the bloodstream
Appendix – contains a special form of tissue used by the lymphatic system – this helps to carry the white blood cells to sites of infection. Also encourages growth of beneficial gut bacteria important for immunity and proper digestion.
Peyer’s Patches – located in the small intestine, these are small masses of lymphatic tissue found in the mucous layer that lines the intestine. These ‘patches’ monitor for, and destroy harmful bacteria.
Lymph Vessels – located throughout the body, they are divided into deep and superficial vessels. Deep vessels collect lymph from internal organs. The superficial vessels are located just below the skin and collect from the superficial areas of the body. Both then transport the fluid to nodes (where the immune system does it’s checks) and eventually this fluid is presented to the cardiovascular system for excretion.
Lymph nodes – located primarily where joints are found in the body (neck, armpit, elbow, knee, groin, ankle, wrist etc). Also found throughout the chest and abdomen. These nodes are part of the immune system as well as the lymphatic system, and are home to lymphocytes and other immune cells.
So there you have it! These are the key players in the functioning and performance of the lymphatic system! Isn't our body fascinating!
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