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TOMOGRAPHY, September 2018, Volume 4, Issue 3:99-104
DOI: 10.18383/j.tom.2018.00013

Meningeal Lymphatic Vessel Flow Runs Countercurrent to Venous Flow in the Superior Sagittal Sinus of the Human Brain

Phillip H. Kuo1, Carol Stuehm1, Scott Squire3, Kevin Johnson4

Departments of 1Medical Imaging,2Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ;3Office of Research Development and Innovation, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and4Clinical Application Scientist, Siemens Medical Solutions, Erlangen, Germany


The recent report of the existence of meningeal lymphatic vessels (MLVs) in human and nonhuman primates used both histology and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Many questions about the physiology and function of these lymphatic vessels remain unanswered. Through the combination of appropriately positioned saturation bands and time-of-flight angiography sequences, MRI can resolve direction of flow within vessels without the use of exogenous contrast agent. Six healthy volunteers underwent high-resolution MRI of the MLVs running alongside the superior sagittal sinus to determine the direction of the lymphatic flow. In all subjects, the lymphatic flow was posterior to anterior, countercurrent to the direction of venous flow in the superior sagittal sinus and alongside the superior sagittal sinus. This flow strongly supports that a large proportion of the CNS lymphatic flow in humans is directed to the cribriform plate. The countercurrent direction of flow in the MLVs relative to venous flow in the superior sagittal sinus has implications for modeling flow of fluid and solutes across the various compartments of the CNS. A hypothetical compartmental model incorporating countercurrent flow is presented here.


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