Sympathetic nerve tissue in milky spots of the human greater omentum

Cindy G J Cleypool, Bernadette Schurink, Dorinde E M van der Horst, Ronald L A W Bleys

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Omental milky spots (OMSs), small lymphoid structures positioned in the greater omentum, are involved in peritoneal immune homeostasis and the formation of omental metastases. Sympathetic nerve activity is known to regulate immune function in other lymphoid organs (e.g. spleen and lymph nodes) and to create a favourable microenvironment for various tumour types. However, it is still unknown whether OMSs receive sympathetic innervation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to establish whether OMSs of the adult human greater omentum receive sympathetic innervation. A total of 18 OMSs were isolated from five omenta, which were removed from 3% formaldehyde-perfused cadavers (with a median age of 84 years, ranging from 64 to 94). OMSs were embedded in paraffin, cut and stained with a general (PGP9.5) and sympathetic nerve marker (TH and DBH), and evaluated by bright field microscopy. A T-cell, B-cell, and macrophage staining was performed to confirm OMS identity. In 50% of the studied OMSs, sympathetic nerve fibres were observed at multiple levels of the same OMS. Nerve fibres were represented as dots or elongated structures and often observed in relation to small vessels and occasionally as individual structures residing between lymphoid cells. The current study shows that 50% of the investigated OMSs contain sympathetic nerve fibres. These findings may contribute to our understanding of neural regulation of peritoneal immune response and the involvement of OMSs in omental metastases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number1
Early online date9 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • greater omentum
  • innervation
  • metastases
  • neuroimmunomodulation
  • omental milky spot
  • sympathetic


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