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.