The lymph node is the crossroad in which soluble signals and cells carried by lymph meet lymphocytes emigrating from blood. Efficient interactions among these elements depend on the reticular network, which comprises reticular fibers, related extracellular matrix components, and associated fibroblastic reticular cells. This network provides a three-dimensional scaffold for attachment of APCs and pathways for the migration of T cells to these APCs. In addition, the network constitutes a miniature conduit system for bulk flow delivery of soluble molecules to distinct sites in the paracortex, particularly the high endothelial venule. The delivered mediators, such as chemokines, regulate the phenotype of the high endothelial venule, the recruitment of lymphocytes, and the behavior of the recruited lymphocytes. Thus, the reticular network is a multifunctional infrastructure that facilitates encounters of cells with other cells and factors necessary for effective and efficient immune surveillance.
- Copyright © 1996 by American Association of Immunologists