Understanding Lymphoid Organs and the part they play in our immune system

I have long wanted to explain various aspects of the Lymphatic System and how it affects our lymphatic health and overall health.  Not easy to put into practical terms from a non-medical perspective so that everyone understands how we can use this knowledge to improve our lymphatic health, selfcare and wellbeing.  As a patient/patient advocate the better understanding I have of how lymphoedema, the lymphatic system and the role the lymphoid organs play in our immune system then the more I feel able to take care of myself.  I realise not everyone will feel the same way as I do but if you are curious read on.

Let me introduce you to the Lymphoid Organs:  

 

Primary lymphoid organs: Also called the 'central lymphoid organs'    This is where lymphoid organs generate lymphocytes from immature progenitor cells.  Or in plain English they create special immune cells called lymphocytes. The thymus and bone marrow are primary lymphoid organs.

Secondary lymphoid organs:  These organs include appendix, lymph nodes, spleen. tonsils and adenoids.  These are the organs where the immune system cells fight off germs and foreign substances.

Understanding Lymphatic Structures

The lymphoid organs and tissues are the organised structures within the lymphatic system and support our immune response in production or activation of the lymphocytes.

Tonsils & Appendix 

Contain lymphoid tissue and help remove viruses and keep infections at bay.

Lymphatic Tissue

Produces lymphocytes and stores excess blood

Lymph Capillaries, lymph vessels and ducts

Similar to veins, but fluid only travels one way.  There are lymph veins and capillaries but there are no lymph arteries.

Lymph Nodes

These are small bean shaped structures often in clusters and found throughout the body. They are not glands because they do not secrete.

Lacteals

Sacs in villi of the digestive system which absorbs products of fat digestion.

Diagrams of Lymphatic Structures

As a member of the British Lymphology Society I get to attend their conference and listen to great speakers. At the #BLS2021 conference Professor Peter Mortimer gave a talk on the lymphatic system and the immune system showing us how they are linked.

This was what he had to say:  

"We hear so much about our immune system and immunity but nothing about the lymphatic system, yet the lymphatic system houses the bulk of our immune system.

If the lymphatic circulation doesn't work properly our ability to overcome infection is compromised, and sepsis can occur.

Exposure to new infections requires entry into, and response from, the lymphatic system before acquired immunity to that infection is operational."