The pathways of circulation and clearance of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the spine have yet to be elucidated. We have recently shown with dynamic in vivo imaging that routes of outflow of CSF in mice occur along cranial nerves to extracranial lymphatic vessels. Here, we use near-infrared and magnetic resonance imaging to demonstrate the flow of CSF tracers within the spinal column and reveal the major spinal pathways for outflow to lymphatic vessels in mice. We found that after intraventricular injection, a spread of CSF tracers occurs within both the central canal and the spinal subarachnoid space toward the caudal end of the spine. Outflow of CSF tracers from the spinal subarachnoid space occurred predominantly from intravertebral regions of the sacral spine to lymphatic vessels, leading to sacral and iliac LNs. Clearance of CSF from the spine to lymphatic vessels may have significance for many conditions, including multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

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