Lymph capillaries or lymphatic capillaries are tiny thin-walled blood vessels that are closed at one end and are located in the spaces between cells throughout the body, except in the central nervous system, and in non-vascular tissues. The main purpose of these vessels is to drain excess tissue fluids from around the cell ready to be filtered and returned to the venous circulation. Lymphatic capillaries are slightly larger in diameter than blood capillaries and have a unique structure that permits interstitial fluidto flow into them but not out. The ends of endothelial cells that make up the wall of a lymphatic capillary overlap. When pressure is greater in the interstitial fluid than in lymph, the cells separate slightly, like the opening of a one-way swinging door, and interstitial fluid enters the lymphatic capillary. When pressure is greater inside the lymphatic capillary, the cells adhere more closely, and lymph cannot escape back into interstitial fluid. Attached to the lymphatic capillaries are anchoring filaments, which contain elastic fibers. They extend out from the lymphatic capillary, attaching lymphatic endothelial cells to surrounding tissues. When excess interstitial fluid accumulates and causes tissue swelling, the anchoring filaments are pulled, making the openings between cells even larger so that more fluid can flow into the lymphatic capillary.
- Tortora, Gerard J.: "Principles of Human Anatomy - 10th edition", page 512. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2005