Lymph nodes are es s ential organs of the immune s ys tem where adaptive immune responses originate, and consist of various leukocyte populations and a stromal backbone. Fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) are the main stromal cells and form a sponge-like extracellular matrix network, called conduits , which they thems elves enwrap and contract. Lymph, containing s oluble antigens , arrive in lymph nodes via afferent lymphatic vessels that connect to the s ubcaps ular s inus and conduit network. According to the current paradigm, the conduit network dis tributes afferent lymph through lymph nodes and thus provides acces s for immune cells to lymph-borne antigens. An elas tic caps ule s urrounds the organ and confines the immune cells and FRC network. Lymph nodes are completely packed with lymphocytes and lymphocyte numbers directly dictates the size of the organ. Although lymphocytes cons tantly enter and leave the lymph node, its s ize remains remarkedly s table under homeostatic conditions. It is only partly known how the cellularity and s ize of the lymph node is regulated and how the lymph node is able to swell in inflammation. The role of the FRC network in lymph node s welling and trans fer of fluids are inves tigated in this thes is. Furthermore, we s tudied what trafficking routes are us ed by cancer cells in lymph nodes to form distal metastases.We examined the role of a mechanical feedback in regulation of lymph node swelling. Using parallel plate compression and UV-las er cutting experiments we dis s ected the mechanical force dynamics of the whole lymph node, and individually for FRCs and the caps ule. Physical forces generated by packed lymphocytes directly affect the tens ion on the FRC network and capsule, which increases its resistance to swelling. This implies a feedback mechanism between tis s ue pres s ure and ability of lymphocytes to enter the organ. Following inflammation, the lymph node swells ∼10 fold in two weeks . Yet, what is the role for tens ion on the FRC network and caps ule, and how are lymphocytes able to enter in conditions that resist swelling remain open ques tions . We s how that tens ion on the FRC network is important to limit the swelling rate of the organ so that the FRC network can grow in a coordinated fashion. This is illustrated by interfering with FRC contractility, which leads to faster swelling rates and a dis organized FRC network in the inflamed lymph node. Growth of the FRC network in turn is expected to releas e tens ion on thes e s tructures and lowers the res is tance to swelling, thereby allowing more lymphocytes to enter the organ and drive more swelling. Halt of swelling coincides with a thickening of the caps ule, which forms a thick res is tant band around the organ and lowers tens ion on the FRC network to form a new force equilibrium.The FRC and conduit network are further believed to be a privileged s ite of s oluble information within the lymph node, although many details remain uns olved. We s how by 3D ultra-recons truction that FRCs and antigen pres enting cells cover the s urface of conduit s ys tem for more than 99% and we dis cus s the implications for s oluble information exchangeat the conduit level.Finally, there is an ongoing debate in the cancer field whether and how cancer cells in lymph nodes s eed dis tal metas tas es . We s how that cancer cells infus ed into the lymph node can utilize trafficking routes of immune cells and rapidly migrate to blood vessels. Once in the blood circulation, these cells are able to form metastases in distal tissues.
Assen FP. Lymph node mechanics: Deciphering the interplay between stroma contractility, morphology and lymphocyte trafficking. 2019. doi:10.15479/AT:ISTA:6947
Assen, F. P. (2019). Lymph node mechanics: Deciphering the interplay between stroma contractility, morphology and lymphocyte trafficking. Institute of Science and Technology Austria. https://doi.org/10.15479/AT:ISTA:6947
Assen, Frank P. “Lymph Node Mechanics: Deciphering the Interplay between Stroma Contractility, Morphology and Lymphocyte Trafficking.” Institute of Science and Technology Austria, 2019. https://doi.org/10.15479/AT:ISTA:6947.
F. P. Assen, “Lymph node mechanics: Deciphering the interplay between stroma contractility, morphology and lymphocyte trafficking,” Institute of Science and Technology Austria, 2019.
Assen FP. 2019. Lymph node mechanics: Deciphering the interplay between stroma contractility, morphology and lymphocyte trafficking. Institute of Science and Technology Austria.
Assen, Frank P. Lymph Node Mechanics: Deciphering the Interplay between Stroma Contractility, Morphology and Lymphocyte Trafficking. Institute of Science and Technology Austria, 2019, doi:10.15479/AT:ISTA:6947.
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