The human lymphatic system consists of several organs, hundreds of lymph nodes, and a network of vessels and fluid. Its primary function is to transport lymph, an infection-fighting fluid, throughout the body and filter toxins and wastes from the blood, explains LiveScience. The lymphatic system works alongside the immune system to fight infections in the body.
Lymphatic vessels make up the majority of the lymphatic system. They are similar to veins and capillaries except they carry lymph. The vessels connect to several hundred lymph nodes, located in various places throughout the body, which filter contaminants from the lymph and allow the remaining fluid to be reabsorbed into the capillaries, according to the Merck Manual.
Located in the upper left abdominal quadrant, the spleen is the largest lymphatic organ. It is responsible for storing and releasing red blood cells into circulation. When the spleen detects foreign organisms in the blood, it produces white blood cells called lymphocytes to defend against the infection, states LiveScience. Lymph nodes also produce lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are signaled by the immune system to produce antibodies that target specific infections to prevent the infections from spreading, and the lymph nodes then help filter and clear the infection from the blood.
The thymus and tonsils are other organs in the lymphatic system. The thymus is located in the center of the chest and stores immature lymphocytes until the lymphocytes are ready to become a more specialized kind of immune cell. The tonsils are located in the throat and act as the body’s first line of immune defense by “sampling” microorganisms that enter the body through the mouth and nose, according to LiveScience.