Anatomy of the utero-ovarian lymphatic network and the composition of afferent lymph in relation to the establishment of pregnancy in the sheep and goat

in Reproduction

Summary. Lymphatic vessels draining the uterus and ovaries were located within the mesometrium and along the utero-ovarian pedicle by injection of marker dyes into the uterine wall and/or ovary of sheep and goats. Afferent lymphatics drained from the uterus towards the utero-ovarian pedicle and alongside the uterine artery, while 4–12 ovarian lymphatics emerged from the sub-ovarian plexus. A complex lymphatic network was formed in the region of the utero-ovarian pedicle by anastomosis between uterine and ovarian lymphatics. Mixed lymph carried in ducts alongside the uterine artery and in the utero-ovarian pedicle drained into the medial iliac node(s) and lumbo-aortic nodes, respectively. There was no evidence for retrograde lymph flow between the uterus and ovaries, but the close proximity of utero-ovarian lymphatics and the ovarian artery may provide an additional pathway for countercurrent diffusion of prostaglandin F-2α.

Afferent lymph collected after chronic cannulation of utero-ovarian ducts ipsilateral to an ovary bearing a corpus luteum contained a mean progesterone concentration which was 10- to 1000-fold higher than that in jugular vein plasma between 15 and 45 days of gestation. Uterine lymph collected after cannulation of utero-ovarian ducts followed by ipsilateral ovariectomy had a progesterone value equivalent to that in plasma. Protein concentration in utero-ovarian and uterine lymph was between 85 and 90% of that of plasma, while Na concentration was slightly higher, and Cl concentration slightly lower than that of plasma. The concentration of K was similar in both biological fluids, confirming that tissue damage of cannulated vessels was negligible. Cell numbers in utero-ovarian and ovarian lymph were low (200 leucocytes/mm3) and consisted mostly of lymphocytes (>94%). These studies show that leucocytes in lymph are exposed to a high concentration of progesterone, and possibly other related steroids, in the utero-ovarian network which is adjacent to an ovary containing a corpus luteum.


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Society for Reproduction and Fertility

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