Current understanding of lymphatic vessels in the central nervous system

Ryota Tamura, Kazunari Yoshida, Masahiro Toda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Lymphangiogenesis is associated with some pathological conditions such as inflammation, tissue repair, and tumor growth. Recently, a paradigm shift occurred following the discovery of meningeal lymphatic structures in the human central nervous system (CNS); these structures may be a key drainage route for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) into the peripheral blood and may also contribute to inflammatory reaction and immune surveillance of the CNS. Lymphatic vessels located along the dural sinuses absorb CSF from the adjacent subarachnoid space and brain interstitial fluid via the glymphatic system, which is composed of aquaporin-4 water channels expressed on perivascular astrocytic end-feet membranes. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) clearly visualized these lymphatic vessels in the human dura mater. The conception of some neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease, has been changed by this paradigm shift. Meningeal lymphatic vessels could be a promising therapeutic target for the prevention of neurological disorders. However, the involvement of meningeal lymphatic vessels in the pathophysiology has not been fully elucidated and is the subject of future investigations. In this article, to understand the involvement of meningeal lymphatic vessels in neurological disorders, we review the differences between lymphangiogenesis in the CNS and in other tissues during both developmental and adulthood stages, and pathological conditions that may be associated with meningeal lymphatic vessels in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1064
Number of pages10
JournalNeurosurgical Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug 1


  • Aquaporin 4
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Dura mater
  • Glymphatic system
  • Lymphatic vessel
  • VEGFR3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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