Difference between Immune System and Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system and immune system are two important systems in a human body, that are closely related to each other, and are sometimes referred to as the lymphatic-immune system.

The immune system depends on the lymphatic system for its efficient performance, and is sometimes referred to as the subset lymphatic system. The main function of the immune system is to provide long term immunity to the body and to guard against foreign substances (viruses, bacteria and fungi) by activating an internal defence system. On the other hand, the major functions of the lymphatic system include fluid recovery, lipid absorption and the enhancement of immunity.

In an anatomical sense, the immune system is a functional system, the one that does not have special organs to carry out its functions, like the digestive system. The lymphatic system, on the other hand, is an organ system that functions through lymphatic vessels and structures. Furthermore, the lymphatic system is associated with the circulatory system, whereas the immune system is connected to the nervous system as well as the endocrine system.


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    Lymphatic System

    The lymphatic system comprises a network of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, and several other organs, distributed throughout the body as a network. These structures collect fluid called lymph from the body and return it to the blood stream, thus maintaining the body’s fluid balance. Besides being part of the circulatory system, this system also maintains the immune system by repelling foreign substances.

    The basic function of lymph vessels is to carry lymph (a clear fluid drained by the lymphatic system, containing large proteins as well as plasma proteins of blood) from peripheral tissues to the veins of the cardiovascular system. The lymph nodes, on the other hand, monitor the consumption of lymph, engulf pathogens, and carry out immune responses in the human body. Besides lymph vessels and lymph nodes, the spleen and thymus are also associated with this system. The lymphatic system returns blood to the heart by means of two main vessels, called thoracic duct and right lymphatic duct.

    Image courtesy: thejoyofreflexology.com

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    Immune System

    The immune system provides long term immunity to the body against certain diseases, and protects it against viral and bacterial invasions. The immune system does not have specific organs to carry out its functions. It is composed of a series of cells and agents that are located in the lymphatic system, mainly through the lymph nodes, tonsils and spleen. During the fetal stage of human development, the stem cells of bone marrow also develop into the organs of the immune system.

    Image courtesy: healthy-proteins.blogspot.com

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