Difference Between Lymphatic Capillaries and Blood Capillaries

Lymphatic capillaries and blood capillaries are two types of tiny blood vessels that play important roles in the circulatory system. Although they may appear similar in structure, they differ significantly in terms of their function, structure, and the substances they transport.

What are Lymphatic Capillaries?

Lymph vessels are the tiniest blood vessels in the body and are responsible for transporting lymph. Tissue fluid and plasma that has spilled out of blood vessels combine to make lymph.

  • Location in the body − With a few exceptions (the epidermis, mucous membranes like the mouth, the brain, and the marrow of the bones), lymphatic capillaries may be found almost wherever in the body. The dermal layer of the skin, the urinary and vaginal systems, and the intestines also contain a relatively high density of such capillaries.

  • Structure − Lymphatic capillaries are tiny structures made up of a single layer of cells called the endothelium. These endothelial cells have the ability to dilate, which widens the spaces between them and allows more fluid to enter the capillary. Moreover, capillaries are fixed in the tissues around them by means of extensions that extend from the vessels.

  • Function − The lymphatic capillaries transport interstitial fluid, which is commonly made up of plasma that has leaked out of blood vessels. White blood cells, which play a key role in the immune response, are also present in the fluid, along with oxygen, amino acids, and glucose that the cells may use. These fluids are often recirculated and reintroduced to the circulatory system. Each capillary has a specific lymphatic system trunk that it empties into. The thoracic duct and the right lymphatic duct are such structures.

What are Blood Capillaries?

Between the arteries and veins is where you'll find the tiniest blood vessels in the body, the capillaries.

  • Location in the body − All cells in the body are surrounded by blood capillaries, which supply them with oxygen and nutrients. Capillaries in the brain, for example, contribute to the blood-brain barrier and have a unique structure compared to capillaries in other parts of the body.

  • Structure − Typically, blood capillaries are little more than 10 m in diameter, making them minuscule in size. Endothelial cells form a single layer in the capillaries. A capillary can be either continuous, fenestrated, or sinusoid. The brain has the continuous type, which does not have gaps between its cells and protects nerve cells from damage. The spleen and liver include sinusoid capillaries, which are the organs' most permeable blood vessels. The fenestrated kind is prevalent in various organs and permits certain chemicals to pass through the intercellular gaps, but not as many as the unobstructed form.

  • Function − All of the cells in the body are surrounded by blood capillaries, which have very thin walls to facilitate the exchange of chemicals between the blood and the cells. So, not only may gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide be traded, but also nutrients and waste products. By joining arterioles and venules, the blood capillaries play a crucial role in linking the body's venous and arterial circulations. The precapillary sphincters govern blood flow by limiting the amount of blood that may pass through the capillary beds to certain areas.

Differences: Lymphatic Capillaries and Blood Capillaries

The following table highlights the major differences between Lymphatic Capillaries and Blood Capillaries −


Lymphatic Capillaries

Blood Capillaries


In the lymphatic system, you'll find a special kind of capillary.

Capillaries in the circulatory system carry blood.

Fluid present

Lymph is the white blood cell-rich fluid found in the lymphatic capillaries. Lymph contains intercellular and interstitial fluid as well as other small molecules.

Fluid in the capillaries of the body, often known as blood, contains cells.


Lymph capillaries are single-layered structures made up of endothelial cells and endothelial cells alone.

With only a single layer of endothelium, blood capillaries are shaped like a loop.


Lymphatic capillaries take in and carry white blood cells and other immune system components, as well as any filtered blood plasma and interstitial fluid. Lymph is then returned to the blood arteries.

Capillaries in the body carry blood from one organ to another, facilitating the exchange of gases and the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste products to and from cells.

Drain into

The lymphatic capillaries are connected to the right lymphatic duct and the thoracic duct.

The venules are responsible for transporting blood from the capillaries to the veins, and the veins are responsible for returning blood to the heart as part of the systemic circulation.


While blood capillaries and lymphatic capillaries both play important roles in the circulatory system, they differ significantly in their function, structure, and the substances they transport.

Blood capillaries are responsible for the exchange of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and waste products between the blood and the body's tissues, while lymphatic capillaries play a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance and removing excess fluid, proteins, and waste products from tissues.

Understanding the differences between these two types of capillaries is important for a complete understanding of the circulatory system and its functions.

Updated on: 26-Apr-2023


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