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Quantitative study of the topographic distribution of conjunctival lymphatic vessels in the monkey

Experimental Eye Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.exer.2011.11.011
  • Lymphatics
  • Conjunctiva
  • Monkeys
  • Lymphangion
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Abstract The purpose of this study was to quantify the topographic distribution of bulbar conjunctival microlymphatic vessels in the monkey. Sixteen eyes from 8 rhesus monkeys were used. Full thickness pieces of globe wall were excised from each quadrant. Cryosections were stained for 5′-nucleotidase, an enzyme histochemical staining for lymphatic vessels, or vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3, an immunohistochemical marker for the identification of lymphatic endothelial cells, and then counterstained by hematoxylin. The remaining bulbar conjunctiva was dissected and flat mounted. The tissue was then processed with 5′-nucleotidase and alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme histochemical stain with higher activity in blood vessels. Microscope images were further analysed by image processing. The density of lymphatics, diameter of lymphatic vessels, and the size of the drainage zone of each blind end of the initial lymphatics were studied. Conjunctival lymphatics consisted of initial lymphatics and pre-collectors. The initial lymphatics with blind ends were predominately distributed just under the epithelium. The density of these lymphatics (∼50%) and the drainage zone area (∼0.81 mm 2) was similar in each quadrant, with no difference in the limbus and fornix regions. The average diameter of lymphatic vessels in each quadrant ranged from 82 to 111 μm, and was greater in the superior and nasal regions. Larger calibre pre-collectors with valve-like structures were mostly located sub Tenon’s membrane and predominantly located in the region mid-way between the limbus and fornix. There was a marked depth difference in initial lymphatic distribution, with the initial lymphatics mostly confined to the region between Tenon’s membrane and the conjunctival epithelium. Detailed knowledge of the topographic distribution of conjunctival lymphatics have significant relevance to a better understanding of immunology, drug delivery, glaucoma filtration surgery, and tumour metastasis in the conjunctiva.

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