What is Lymph?
Lymph is a clear to pale-white fluid which circulates throughout the lymphatic system. The main role of the lymphatic system is to act as a filter against microbes, organic wastes and other debris.
Let us have an overview of the composition and function of lymph.
Composition of Lymph
The lymph comprises lymph plasma, lymph corpuscles and lymphoid organs. The composition of lymph is described below:
It consists of less calcium, few blood proteins, less phosphorus, and high glucose concentration. Globulin proteins which are actual antibodies are found in lymph plasma. Other substances include organic and inorganic substances.
These comprise leucocytes and amoeboid cells.
The lymphatic system consists of numerous lymph nodes deep inside the body. These lymph nodes are connected to lymphatic vessels which circulate the lymph throughout the body. The lymph gets filtered at the lymph nodes.
The spleen, tonsils, adenoids and the thymus all forms a part of the lymphatic system. The spleen is considered as the largest lymphatic organ in the system, which is located under the ribcage, above the stomach, and exactly in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. Other parts of the lymphatic system – tonsils, adenoids and thymus are located on either side of the throat and neck.
Other Components Of Lymph
- Water – 94%
- Very low amount of fat
- Proteins – Albumin, globulin, and fibrinogen
- Non-protein nitrogenous substances.
Also Read: Blood
Function of Lymph
Lymph performs many important functions. Few major functions of lymph are mentioned below:
- It keeps the body cells moist.
- It transports oxygen, hormones and nutrients to different parts of the body and removes metabolic waste from the cells.
- It transports antibodies and lymphocytes to the blood.
- Maintaining the composition of tissue fluid and the volume of blood.
- Absorption of fats from the small intestine through lymphatic vessels.
- Prevents invasion of microbes and foreign substances inside the lymph nodes.
In animals and human beings, extracellular fluid (fluid outside the cell) is divided into the interstitial fluid (the fluid which exists between the tissues) and plasma. It consists of small water-soluble substances which flow in between the tissue cells. Both plasma and interstitial fluid are the same due to the continuous exchange of small solutes, water and ions across the capillary walls of the tissues.
The functions of interstitial fluid are as follows:
- It is used to transport nutrients to the cells.
- It enables intercellular communication between the cells.
- It removes the metabolic wastes from the cells.
The interstitial fluid is collected by the lymphatic system and the rest is drained out. The drained fluid moves back to the blood vessels and the remaining fluid is collected through the lymph capillaries, which is also known as lymphatic capillaries.
Also refer: Difference Between Blood and Lymph