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Tissue Fluid and Lymph, Practice problems and FAQs

Tissue Fluid and Lymph, Practice problems and FAQs

How often do you get scolded for eating without washing your hands? If not too often, then pat your back for maintaining hygiene. But what happens when we do not maintain hygiene? Harmful germs which can make us sick can enter our body.

But do not worry much. Our body also has many germ fighters known as ‘lymphocytes’. These lymphocytes keep patrolling in a fluid called lymph. You must be thinking, “Isn’t blood the only fluid in our body?”. No, it isn’t. Our circulatory system is composed of two circulating fluids, blood and lymph.

We know that blood is the red fluid that runs through our blood vessels but, what is lymph? What does it do besides carrying these germ-fighting lymphocytes? Come let us learn more about the lymph and the lymphatic system.

Table of contents

  • Lymphatic system
  • Composition of lymph
  • Functions of lymph and lymphatic system
  • Practice Problems
  • FAQs

Lymphatic system

The fluid part of blood which leaks out of blood capillaries and is present in the intercellular spaces between the cells in a tissue is termed as ‘tissue fluid or interstitial fluid’. This fluid contains water, dissolved minerals and WBCs which were filtered out from blood plasma through capillary walls.

Some of this tissue fluid gets reabsorbed into the blood capillaries but most of the tissue fluid enters the lymphatic capillaries.

The fluid present in the lymphatic system is called the lymph. Lymph returns to the general blood circulation through the large thoracic duct that empties into the subclavian vein (major vein draining the upper extremities). An elaborate network of vessels, lymph nodes, lymphoid organs along with the lymph forms the lymphatic system.


                                   Fig: Lymph entering the lymph vessels

The study of the lymphatic system is known as ‘Lymphatology’. The components of the lymphatic system are :

  1. Lymph
  2. Lymph capillaries and vessels
  3. Lymphatic ducts
  4. Lymph nodes
  5. Spleen
  6. Thymus
  7. Tonsils


                                                      Fig: Lymphatic system

Lymphatic vessels

These originate as lymphatic capillaries surrounding the cells of a tissue. They drain lymph from the tissues and return it back to the bloodstream. As the lymphatic vessels are not connected to the heart, the circulation of lymph through the lymphatic vessels occurs due to the activity of the surrounding skeletal muscles and aerial pulsation. Unidirectional flow of lymph is facilitated by the presence of valves in the lymphatic vessels.

Lymphatic capillaries in the intestinal villi that help in the absorption and transportation of fats and fat-soluble lipids are known as lacteals.


                                           Fig: Lacteal

Lymph nodes

These are present on the lymph vessels and filter the passing lymph by trapping and destroying the germs and foreign bodies.

Thymus

Thymus is a primary lymphoid organ that is responsible for the development and maturation of T lymphocytes in the body. It is present near the heart, beneath the breastbone.


                                Fig: Thymus

Spleen

It is a large, bean shaped, secondary lymphoid organ that is located in the left upper part of the abdomen. It mainly contains lymphocytes and phagocytes. It acts as a huge reservoir of erythrocytes and helps in filtering the lymph as it traps harmful microbes.


                                      Fig: Spleen

Tonsils

Tonsils are secondary lymphoid organs located near the throat and are also responsible for trapping foreign bodies. They also help in production of white blood cells.


                                       Fig: Tonsils

Peyer’s patches

The mucosal and submucosal layer of the small intestine possesses isolated nodules of lymphoid tissue known as the Peyer’s patches.


                                             Fig: Peyer’s patches

Composition of lymph

Lymph is a colourless fluid connective tissue. As lymph is derived from the tissue fluid, it resembles blood plasma in composition and is also known as the filtered blood plasma. Lymph contains specialised lymphocytes which are responsible for the immune responses of the body. Lymph contains some proteins that are common to the blood plasma, but in lesser quantities. Lymph is different from blood as it lacks RBCs, platelets and some plasma proteins. It has no power of clotting like the blood.

Functions of lymph and lymphatic system

Lymphatic system is largely responsible for the body’s immunity against harmful agents. It filters out pathogens, inactivates toxins, produces the white blood cells and antibodies.

Lymph also helps in the circulation of nutrients, hormones, etc and drains off excessive proteins and fluids left behind by the blood capillaries.

Spleen helps in the destruction of worn out red blood cells and helps to release iron into the blood which can be used for haemoglobin synthesis.

The lymphatic capillaries in the intestinal villi help in absorption and transport of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.

Practice problems

1. How is lymph circulated in the body?
Answer:
The fluid part of blood which is filtered out of the blood capillaries and enters the intercellular spaces between the cells in a tissue is termed as ‘tissue fluid or interstitial fluid’.

Some of this tissue fluid gets reabsorbed into the blood capillaries but most of the tissue fluid enters the lymphatic capillaries as lymph. An elaborate network of vessels called the lymphatic vessels collect this fluid and drain it back to the major veins. Lymph returns to the general blood circulation through the large thoracic duct that empties into the subclavian vein (major vein draining the upper extremities).

As the lymphatic vessels are not connected to the heart, the circulation of lymph through the lymphatic vessels occurs due to the activity of the surrounding skeletal muscles and aerial pulsation.

2. The colourless nature of lymph is due to

  1. Presence of RBCs
  2. Absence of RBCs
  3. Presence of WBCs
  4. Absence of WBCs

Solution: Lymph is formed when the fluid part of the blood leaks into the intercellular spaces of a tissue and enters into the lymph vessels from there. Its composition is similar to that of blood plasma. It consists of WBCs, water and some plasma proteins in lesser quantities. However, it does not contain RBCs which are red in colour due to the presence of a red respiratory pigment named haemoglobin. Absence of RBCs renders the lymph colourless. Blood is red due to the presence of the RBCs.

Thus, the correct option is b.

3. Which one of the following is correct?

  1. Plasma = Blood + Lymphocytes
  2. Plasma = Blood - Lymph
  3. Lymph = Plasma + WBCs + RBCs
  4. Lymph = WBCS + Water + some plasma proteins

Solution: The main components of blood are: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

As lymph is derived from the tissue fluid, it resembles blood plasma in composition and is also known as the filtered blood plasma. Lymph contains water and specialised lymphocytes. It also contains some proteins that are common to the blood plasma, but in lesser quantities.

Thus, the correct option is d.

4. What are lacteals?

Answer: Lacteals are the lymph capillaries that surround the villi in the small intestine. They help in the absorption and transport of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.

FAQs

1. What is lymphoma?
Answer:
Lymphoma is the cancer that arises from the cells of the lymphatic system and can be detected by abnormally enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss and fatigue. Lymphoma is curable if detected at an early stage.

2. What are the common diseases of the lymphatic system?
Answer:
The most common diseases of the lymphatic system are lymphadenopathy (enlargement of the lymph nodes), lymphedema (swelling due to blockage of lymph nodes and lymphoma.

3. What is tonsillitis?
Answer:
Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsil that can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. It is characterised by swelling of the tonsils which results in sore throat and difficulty in swelling.

4. What are the effects of tonsil removal?
Answer:
Tonsils are often removed even tonsillitis occurs frequently. As it is one of the secondary lymphoid organs, removal of tonsils increases the risks of respiratory tract infections.

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