The Meningeal Lymphatic System: A New Player in Neurophysiology

Sandro Da Mesquita, Zhongxiao Fu, Jonathan Kipnis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The nature of fluid dynamics within the brain parenchyma is a focus of intensive research. Of particular relevance is its participation in diseases associated with protein accumulation and aggregation in the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). The meningeal lymphatic vessels have recently been recognized as an important player in the complex circulation and exchange of soluble contents between the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the interstitial fluid (ISF). In aging mammals, for example, impaired functioning of the meningeal lymphatic vessels can lead to accelerated accumulation of toxic amyloid beta protein in the brain parenchyma, thus aggravating AD-related pathology. Given that meningeal lymphatic vessels are functionally linked to paravascular influx/efflux of the CSF/ISF, and in light of recent findings that certain cytokines, classically perceived as immune molecules, exert neuromodulatory effects, it is reasonable to suggest that the activity of meningeal lymphatics could alter the accessibility of CSF-borne immune neuromodulators to the brain parenchyma, thereby altering their effects on the brain. Accordingly, in this Perspective we propose that the meningeal lymphatic system can be viewed as a novel player in neurophysiology. In this article, Da Mesquita et al. describe important features of the meningeal lymphatic system, its interaction with other pathways of macromolecule clearance in the brain, and its role in the regulation of CNS immune response, cytokine signaling, neural cell function, and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-388
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 24 2018


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • cytokines
  • glia
  • glymphatic
  • immune cells
  • interstitial fluid
  • lymphatic vessels
  • meninges
  • neuromodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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