Transport of tissue-derived lymphatic fluid and clearance by draining lymph nodes are pivotal for maintenance of fluid homeostasis in the body and for immune-surveillance of the self- and non-self-proteomes. Yet a quantitative analysis of nodal filtration of the tissue-derived proteome present in lymphatic fluid has not been reported. Here we quantified the efficiency of nodal clearance of the composite proteomic load using label-free and isotope-labeling proteomic analysis of pre-nodal and post-nodal samples collected by direct cannulation. These results were extended by quantitation of the filtration efficiency of fluorophore-labeled proteins, bacteria, and beads infused at physiological flow rates into pre-nodal lymphatic collectors and collected by post-nodal cannulation. We developed a linear model of nodal filtration efficiency dependent on pre-nodal protein concentrations and molecular weight, and uncovered criteria for disposing the proteome incoming from defined anatomical districts under physiological conditions. These findings are pivotal to understanding the maximal antigenic load sustainable by a draining node, and promote understanding of pathogen spreading and nodal filtration of tumor metastasis, potentially helping to improve design of vaccination protocols, immunization strategies and drug delivery.
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