Acute pneumococcic lymphadenitis produced in rats by intradermal inoculation of the foot-pad is characterized by rapid infiltration of polymorphonuclear leucocytes into the intermediary sinuses of the node, and prompt phagocytosis of pneumococci by both the macrophages of the sinuses and the recently arrived leucocytes. After 5 to 7 hours the polymorphonuclear leucocytes are found densely congregated about the hilar region, and 9 hours after inoculation most of the phagocyted organisms have been digested. At the end of the 24 hour period the popliteal node presents the picture of a subsiding inflammation with a marked macrophage reaction and regenerating lymph follicles.
Phagocytosis of encapsulated pneumococci in the foot-pad and popliteal node occurs in less than 30 minutes after inoculation. It is assumed that this prompt phagocytosis is effected by the non-antibody mechanism of "surface phagocytosis."
The majority of polymorphonuclear leucocytes that enter the sinuses of the inflamed node appear to come from capillaries within the node itself rather than from the primary site of inflammation in the foot-pad. The prompt inflammatory response of the nodal tissues serves as an active defense against lymph-borne infection.
Macrophages invade nodal sinuses only after most of the pneumococci have been destroyed by polymorphonuclear leucocytes. It is suggested that the macrophage reaction follows removal of the primary inflammatory stimulus by the granulocytes, and thus constitutes only a late phase of recovery.
Fibrin formation in the sinuses of the lymph node is rare during acute lymphadenitis. This finding may be related to the observation that within 5 minutes after entrance of bacteria into the node, heparin-containing granules from mast cells are strewn throughout the sinuses.