Get your go bag and suit up—it’s time to stop the next invasion! Those are the orders your lymphatic system receives every time an invading bacteria, virus, or other microorganism is detected by the spleen, your body’s central command and disease early-warning system.
As in an expertly planned and executed multipronged attack, the lymphatic system defends against invaders by deploying lymphocytes, specialized white blood cells that produce antibodies, the lethal agents that kill invaders. Get an overview of the human lymphatic system with 2/3 life-size model that includes vessels, ducts, nodes, and organs.
The lymphatic system is made of the lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen, thymus, and the lymphatic vessels that transport lymph. Each structure performs specified tasks to defend the body. Take a look at our infographic illustrating the structure of the lymphatic system and the organs of the system for an overview of the battle plan.
Lymphocytes, the body’s weapon of choice
Lymphocytes, the body’s weapon of choice, are specialized white blood cells that develop into either B cells or T cells. B cells possess antigen receptors that bind to a foreign substance (called an antigen) and create antibodies that signal for the demise of other invaders. An antigen might be a virus, bacterium, parasite, or any other substance identified as foreign. T cells kill diseased cells and cancer cells directly. Whether using heavy artillery (B cells) or bullets (T cells), lymphocytes work hard to keep our bodies safe and account for 25 to 30% of all white blood cells.
Introduce students to hematology with a blood staining microscopy laboratory activity that’s safe and easy to use. Using prepared blood smear slides, students can stain blood samples and then identify the types of blood cells present–erythrocytes, leukocytes, granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes–simulating the tests run in doctors’ offices across the country. This gives students a glimpse into the duties, responsibilities, and techniques required of a diagnostic hematologist.
Students can engage in additional microscopy work with these prepared slides:
Human spleen—the central command for fighting disease. The spleen filters blood, controls the amount of red blood cells, and detects dangerous bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms.
Human thymus—an armory and training center where immature lymphocytes prepare to become active T cells.
Human palatine tonsil—the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth and nose.
Mammal lymph node—the behind-the-lines support staff that evaluates lymph as it moves through and that store cells to fight foreign invaders.
Mammal lymphatic vessel—the conduits for the supply caravan of lymph.
For a whole system approach, have students investigate the immune response with the Carolina BioKits®: Immunodetective Investigation, where they learn the double diffusion technique in agar gel to study the antigen-antibody reaction.
With models, activities, and materials to help students visualize systems, develop skills, and learn anatomy and physiology, Carolina will help you and your students win the day.