50 Lymphatic Integration of Systems

All of the systems of the human body functioning together comprise the total human organism, the highest level of organization. All body systems influence and interact with one another. They work together to maintain health and provide protection from disease. The lymphatic system returns filtered fluids to blood preventing plasma loss and interstitial edema. Water and solute must be correctly proportioned in the various compartments of the body to maintain fluid balance. Fluid balance allows for healthy circulation of substances throughout the body, optimal distances for diffusion of ions and molecules, and proper ion concentration for excitable tissues. In addition, the lymphatic system helps protect the whole organism from external invasion of foreign substances into the body that may cause disease and also removes damaged or worn out body cells as a normal component of tissue repair and maintenance.

The following table highlights some of the lymphatic system interaction with several other body systems.

Table 1: Highlights of the Lymphatic System’s Interactions with Several Other Body Systems
Body System Lymphatic System Support Lymphatic System Benefits/Effects
Cardiovascular Returns filtered fluids and proteins to blood preventing interstitial edema and loss of plasma volume. Provides transport for white blood cells from site of their origin to their effector site.
Endocrine Thymus gland produces hormones that regulate T cell maturation Hormones coordinate leukopoesis; Cortisol is an immune suppressant
Muscular Fluid balance provides proper ion concentration and subsequent membrane potentials for contraction Skeletal muscle pumps help lymph flow through lymphatic vessels
Nervous Source of microglial cells which remove debris from CNS. Cytokines promote sleep; cytokines target temperature regulation setpoint in hypothalamus during fever production Sleep optimizes immune response; hypothalamus resets body temperature during fever production to enhance immune response; hypothalamus releases corticotropin which activates the pathway for cortisol release which has anti-inflammatory effects
Reproductive Antibodies cross placenta providing passive immunity to fetus and antibodies in mother’s milk provide passive immunity to newborn Immune system undergoes important modifications during pregnancy; critical that mother tolerate fetus (foreign graft); sex hormones may be anti-inflammatory but may exacerbte antibody mediated autoimmunity
Respiratory Prevents interstitial fluid accumulation so that distance for gas exchange is optimal; MALT, alveolar macrophages inhibits pathogens that penetrate mucous and alveolar membranes Gas exchanges in lungs provides oxygen to lymphatic cells and removes waste carbon dioxide from these cells necessary for viability of cells
Skeletal Osteoclast, which helps regulate calcium balance, is derived from monocyte Red bone marrow is site of white blood cell formation
Integumentary Assists in interstitial fluid volume balance. Leukocytes remove pathogens and help wound repair Anatomic and chemical barrier component of innate body defenses
Urinary Assists kidneys in fluid balance by helping maintain fluid in the vascular compartments; MALT helps defend against pathogens Urine flow helps prevent pathogen entrance into body as part of innate immunity
Digestive Lymphatic lacteals transport dietary lipids from small intestine to blood; GALT inhibits pathogen that penetrate mucous membranes Provides nutrients for lymphoid organs; gastric acidity is component of innate immunity


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