Brain health’s link to lymphatic drainage

Feb 5, 2024

Using fluorescent tracers in mice, researchers discovered that the nasopharyngeal lymphatic plexus is crucial for draining cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to deep cervical lymph nodes. Unlike its downstream counterparts, this plexus lacks smooth muscle but has unique valves and structure. With age, it atrophies, although CSF drainage can still be enhanced through specific signalling pathways, suggesting potential treatments for age-related neurological conditions by improving CSF clearance.

January 2023 – Nature


Key takeaways


  • Key role in CSF drainage: The nasopharyngeal lymphatic plexus serves as a critical pathway for the drainage of cerebrospinal fluid into the body’s lymphatic system, particularly into deep cervical lymph nodes. This process is crucial for maintaining brain health by ensuring the removal of waste products and excess fluids from the central nervous system
  • Impact of ageing on clearance: As individuals age, the structure and functionality of the nasopharyngeal lymphatic plexus undergo changes that can impair its ability to efficiently clear neurotoxic substances, such as amyloid-beta and tau proteins, from the brain. This reduced clearance capacity may contribute to the accumulation of toxic substances, which is a hallmark of several neurodegenerative conditions
  • Insights into neurodegenerative diseases: The study’s insights into the mechanisms of cerebrospinal fluid drainage highlight the importance of the lymphatic system in brain health and its potential involvement in the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Understanding these mechanisms better could lead to new approaches in preventing or slowing down the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are prevalent in the elderly population


Read the article at: Yoon, JH., Jin, H., Kim, H.J. et al. Nasopharyngeal lymphatic plexus is a hub for cerebrospinal fluid drainage. Nature 625, 768–777 (2024).