Complex non-sinus-associated pachymeningeal lymphatic structures: Interrelationship with blood microvasculature


Abstract

The contribution of cranial dura mater vascular networks, as means for maintaining brain fluid movement and balance, and as the source of significant initiators and/or contributors to neurological disorders, has been overlooked. These networks consist of both blood and lymphatic vessels. The latter were discovered recently and described as sinus-associated structures thus changing the old paradigm that central nervous system lacks lymphatics. In this study, using markers specific to blood and lymphatic endothelia, we demonstrate the existence of the complex non-sinus-associated pachymeningeal lymphatic vasculature. We further show the interrelationship and possible connections between lymphatic vessels and the dural blood circulatory system. Our novel findings reveal the presence of lymphatic-like structures that exist on their own and/or in close proximity to microvessels. Of particular interest are sub-sets of vascular complexes with dual (lymphatic and blood) vessel identity representing a unique microenvironment within the cranial dura. The close association of the systemic blood circulation and meningeal lymphatics achieved in these complexes could facilitate fluid exchange between the two compartments and constitute an alternative route for CSF drainage.