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Vascular – Associated Lymphoid Tissue Definition
Loosely collected clusters of lymph tissue throughout the inner, mucosal layer of the walls of the blood vessels. Researchers discovered VALT in the late 1990s and remain unsure of its role and functions. There do appear to be correlations between lymphocyte activity in VALT and cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, which many cardiologists now believe results from an inflammatory process rather than creates inflammation.
Researchers do not know, however, whether VALT attempts to fight the inflammation or contributes to it. Researchers are also investigating the relationship between VALT and dissecting aortic aneurysm, a life-threatening condition in which the layers of the walls of the abdominal aorta begin to separate. The separations weaken the wall of this major artery, creating substantial risk for the arterial wall to rupture.
For further discussion of VALT within the context of the structures and functions of the immune system, please see the overview section “The Immune System and Allergies.”
See also BRONCHIAL-ASSOCIATED LYMPHOID TISSUE (BALT); GUT-ASSOCIATED LYMPHOID TISSUE (GALT); MUCOSA-ASSOCIATED LYMPHOID TISSUE (MALT); NOSEASSOCIATED LYMPHOID TISSUE (NALT); SKIN-ASSOCIATED LYMPHOID TISSUE (SALT); VASCULITIS.
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