We describe the three-dimensional organization of the micro vasculature of human palatine tonsils as revealed by the vascular corrosion casting/scanning electron microscope method and light microscopy of sections. The tonsillar arteries travel in the connective tissue septa and give off many branches. They further branch into arterioles which in turn enter the follicle and the interfollicular region. These arterioles, giving off capillaries en route, reach the subepithelial region where they break up into sinusoidal capillaries. The subepithelial capillary network overlying the follicle protrudes hemispherically towards the crypt, while that overlying the interfollicular region has many switch-back loops of capillaries projected towards the crypt. The subepithelial sinusoids gather into the high endothelial venules (HEVs) which, collecting capillaries in the follicle and the interfollicular region en route, course down into the interfollicular region alongside the follicle. The HEVs surround the lateral and basal surfaces of the follicle and ultimately lead into the ordinary veins in the septa. The subepithelial sinusoids seem to be involved in taking up immunoglobulins secreted by plasma cells and any other substances released by lymphocytes and/or macrophages as well as supplying the tissues with necessary oxygen and nutrients. That the HEVs are downstream to the subepithelial sinusoids suggests that some substances which are taken up into the sinusoids and transported to the postcapillary venules induce differentiation of HEVs and maintain them.
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