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Logo of jclinpathJournal of Clinical PathologyVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Clin Pathol. 1980 May; 33(5): 454–461.
PMCID: PMC1146110

Human lymph node morphology as a function of age and site.


Cervical, axillary, cubital, inguinal, popliteal, and mesenteric lymph nodes from subjects of various ages who had died a sudden death were examined histologically. Care was taken to establish by morphometry the proportional distribution in lymph node cross-sections of cortical, paracortical, and medullary areas. In addition, numbers and surface areas of cross-sectioned germinal centres were registered. Important differences related to age and anatomical site of lymph nodes were established by this survey. Germinal centre formation, particularly evident in infants and children, less so in young adults, and often absent in ageing individuals, was most impressive in lymph nodes normally exposed to antigenic stimulation (mesenteric and cervical lymph nodes). Paracortical and medullary areas exhibited a slight but gradual reduction with advancing age. Replacement of lymphatic parenchyma by fat tissue (lipomatous atrophy) was a characteristic of more peripheral lymph nodes usually subjected to little antigenic stimulation, that is, cubital, axillary, and popliteal nodes. It should be emphasised that both age-related and regional differences have to be taken into account in a meaningful functional interpretation of lymph node morphology.

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