Difference Between Lymphatic and Immune System

Main Difference – Lymphatic System vs Immune System

Lymphatic system and immune system are two systems of the body with different functions. The main difference between lymphatic and immune system is that lymphatic system is a part of the immune system whereas immune system defends the body from foreign materials. The lymphatic system comprises lymph, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and some other organs such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, vermiform appendix, and Peyer’s patch. The functions of the lymphatic system include the drainage of protein-containing tissue fluid back to the blood, fat absorption, and defending the body against pathogens. The two types of immunities in the body are innate immunity and the adaptive immunity. The innate immunity generates non-specific immune responses against pathogens whereas the adaptive immunity generates specific immune responses. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Lymphatic System
      – Definition, Components, Function
2. What is Immune System
      – Definition, Components, Function
3. What are Similarities Between Lymphatic and Immune System
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Lymphatic and Immune System
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Antibodies, Adaptive Immunity, B Cells, Cell-Mediated Immunity, Humoral Immunity, Immune System, Innate Immunity, Lymph, Lymphatic System, T cellsDifference Between Lymphatic and Immune System - Comparison Summary

What is Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is the network of vessels through which the lymph drains back to the blood. The main components of the lymphatic system are lymph, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, thymus, and the spleen. The fluid which circulates throughout the body is called the lymph. The tissue fluid that is drained to the lymphatic system is called the lymph. The lymph is rich with lymphocytes, which are the immune system cells. The lymph that is formed in the digestive system contains a lot of fat and is called chyle. The chyle is a milky white fluid. The lymph vessels carry lymph around the body. The lymph nodes are the small, bean-shaped organs, which filter harmful substances. They contain lymphocytes and macrophages as well. The major lymph nodes occur in tonsils, neck, groin, armpits, adenoids, and mediastinum. A swollen lymph node indicates a reaction to an infection. The maturation of the T cells occurs in the thymus. The thymus is located between the breastbone and the heart. The spleen is located in the upper left abdomen. It filters the defective red blood cells. The components of the lymphatic system are shown in figure 1. 

Main Difference - Lymphatic System vs Immune System

Figure 1: Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system cleanses the cellular environment. It drains the proteins and tissue fluid back to the circulation system. It also absorbs fat and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system and drains to the blood. Finally, the lymphatic system is involved in the defense of the body from pathogens.

What is Immune System

The immune system is the organs and the reactions of the body which provides resistance to infections and toxins. That means the immune system defends the body from harmful, foreign substances. The immune system is made up of proteins, cells, and organs. Once a pathogen enters the body, the immune system recognizes it and triggers an immune response. The two types of immunities are the innate immunity and the adaptive immunity. The innate immunity generates non-specific immune responses to all types of pathogens. The phagocytosis is carried out by macrophages, dendritic cells, mast cells, monocytes, and neutrophils. In the adaptive immunity, the pathogen-specific immune responses are produced. The two types of adaptive immunity are humoral immunity and the cell-mediated immunity.

 Lymphatic System and Immune System

Figure 2: T Helper Cells

In the humoral immunity, the plasma B cells produce antigen-specific antibodies. Those antibodies bind to the specific molecules on the surface of pathogens, neutralizing the pathogens. This neutralization removes the pathogens from the circulation. It also subjects the pathogens to phagocytes or complements proteins that destroy the pathogens. In other words, the humoral immunity mainly acts on the extracellular pathogens in the circulation. In contrast, the cell-mediated immunity acts on intracellular pathogens that infect the body cells. The infected cells are destroyed by inducing apoptosis by the cytotoxic T cells. The T helper cells induce the production of antibodies in B cells. The functions of T helper cells are shown in figure 2.   

Similarities Between Lymphatic and Immune System

  • Both lymphatic system and immune system are two systems of the animal body.
  • Both lymphatic system and immune system defend the body against pathogens.
  • Both lymphatic system and immune system have common components.

Difference Between Lymphatic and Immune System

Definition

Lymphatic System: The lymphatic system refers to the network of vessels through which the lymph drains back to the blood.

Immune System: The immune system refers to the organs and the reactions of the body, which provides resistance to the infections and toxins.

Significance

Lymphatic System: The lymphatic system is a component of the immune system.

Immune System: The immune system defend the body against pathogens.

Components

Lymphatic System: The lymphatic system comprises lymph, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and some other organs such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, vermiform appendix, and Peyer’s patch.

Immune System: The immune system is a functional system.

Connected to

Lymphatic System: The lymphatic system is connected to the circulation system.

Immune System: The immune system is connected to the endocrine system and the nervous system.

Conclusion

Lymphatic system and immune system are two important systems in the animal body. The main function of the lymphatic system is to drain the tissue fluid back to the blood. The immune system protects the body from pathogens. The lymphatic system also helps the immune system to protect the body from pathogens. The main difference between lymphatic and immune system is the function of each system in the body.

Reference:

1.MacGill, Markus. “Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions and Diseases.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 14 Apr. 2016, Available here. Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.
2.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “What is the Immune System?” Vaccines.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 Oct. 2006, Available here. Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.

Image Courtesy:

1. “TE-Lymphatic system diagram” By File: Illu lymphatic system.jpg (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Lymphocyte activation simple” By Häggström, Mikael (2014). “Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014″. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.008. ISSN 2002-4436. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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