Special structure of the lymphatic capillaries that permits passage of substances of high molecular weight into the lymph.
The protein concentration in the interstitial fluid of most tissues averages about 2 g/dl, and the protein concentration of lymph flowing from these tissues is near this value. Conversely, lymph formed in the liver has a protein concentration as high as 6 g/dl, and lymph formed in the intestines has a protein concentration as high as 3 to 4 g/dl. Because about two thirds of all lymph normally is derived from the liver and intestines, the thoracic duct lymph, which is a mixture of lymph from all areas of the body, usually has a protein concentration of 3 to 5 g/dl.
The lymphatic system is also one of the major routes for absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract, especially for absorption of virtually all fats in food, as discussed in Chapter 65. Indeed, after a fatty meal, thoracic duct lymph sometimes contains as much as 1 to 2 per cent fat.
Finally, even large particles, such as bacteria, can push their way between the endothelial cells of the lymphatic capillaries and in this way enter the lymph. As the lymph passes through the lymph nodes, these particles are almost entirely removed and destroyed, as discussed in Chapter 33.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.