Antoine Louveau 1 , 2 , Igor Smirnov 1 , 2 , Timothy J. Keyes 1 , 2 , Jacob D. Eccles 3 , 4 , 5 , Sherin J. Rouhani 3 , 4 , 6 , J. David Peske 3 , 4 , 6 , Noel C. Derecki 1 , 2 , David Castle 7 , James W. Mandell 8 , S. Lee Kevin 1 , 2 , 9 , Tajie H. Harris 1 , 2 , Jonathan Kipnis 1 , 2 , 3
01 June 2015
One of the characteristics of the CNS is the lack of a classical lymphatic drainage system. Although it is now accepted that the CNS undergoes constant immune surveillance that takes place within the meningeal compartment 1– 3 , the mechanisms governing the entrance and exit of immune cells from the CNS remain poorly understood 4– 6 . In searching for T cell gateways into and out of the meninges, we discovered functional lymphatic vessels lining the dural sinuses. These structures express all of the molecular hallmarks of lymphatic endothelial cells, are able to carry both fluid and immune cells from the CSF, and are connected to the deep cervical lymph nodes. The unique location of these vessels may have impeded their discovery to date, thereby contributing to the long-held concept of the absence of lymphatic vasculature in the CNS. The discovery of the CNS lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and shed new light on the etiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.