Textor, J.,Mandl, J. N.,de Boer, R. J.

Lymph nodes are meeting points for circulating immune cells. A network of reticular cells that ensheathe a mesh of collagen fibers crisscrosses the tissue in each lymph node. This reticular cell network distributes key molecules and provides a structure for immune cells to move around on. During infections, the network can suffer damage. A new study has now investigated the network’s structure in detail, using methods from graph theory. The study showed that the network is remarkably robust to damage: it can still support immune responses even when half of the reticular cells are destroyed. This is a further important example of how network connectivity achieves tolerance to failure, a property shared with other important biological and nonbiological networks.