Difference Between Lymph Nodes and Glands

Lymph Nodes vs Glands

Glands and lymph nodes are important structures in the human body. These structures help to regulate biological processes and maintain immune functions in the body.  Most glands are associated with the circulatory system, and lymph nodes produce the component of the circulatory system (while blood cells).

Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes (or lymph glands) belong to the lymphatic system, which is very important to establish a defensive network in the body. Lymph nodes, basically, contain white blood cells including lymphocytes and macrophages. Lymph node has a bean-shaped structure. Each lymph node contains blood vessels, nerves, and afferent and efferent lymphatic vessels. There is a connective tissue around the lymph node that extends inside the node and divides it into nodules. These nodules contain macrophages and lymphocytes, and a flow of lymph.

Lymph nodes can be found along the larger lymph vessels. When compared to other areas of the body, the head and neck area is rich in lymph nodes, which almost account 30 % of all lymph nodes in human. Lymph node in the neck and head are small, and they vary from 2 to 15 mm in diameter.

The main function of the lymph nodes is to filter lymph and destroy bacteria and other cellular debris before lymph is returned back to the blood stream. In addition, lymph nodes are the places where the production of lymphocytes takes place.


Gland is a collection of secretory cells, which secrete certain substance in the human body.  There are two types of glands; duct glands and ductless glands. Duct glands are the glands which release their secretion through ducts or tubes, whereas ductless glands are the glands which do not release their secretion into a tube or duct, but release directly into the bloodstream. Ductless glands are also referred to as ‘endocrine glands. Examples for duct glands include salivary glands, tear glands, elimination glands, sweat glands etc. Ductless glands are important to regulate many biological processes in our body. Their secretions are commonly called ‘hormones.  Some examples for ductless glands include; pineal gland, pituitary gland, parathyroid, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, gonads etc.

What is the difference between Lymph Node and Gland?

• Lymph nodes belong to the lymphatic system, whereas glands belong to many systems such as the digestive system (e.g.: salivary glands), excretory system (e.g.: sweat glands) etc.

• Lymph nodes produce lymphocytes and filter lymph, whereas glands produce hormone and other secretions.

• Lymph nodes contain macrophages and lymphocytes while glands contain glandular cells.

• Glands have various shapes, whereas lymph nodes are bean-shaped.

• Glands are found all over the body, whereas lymph nodes are found only along the larger lymphatic vessels.

• Lymph nodes get swollen when foreign particles enter into the body, unlike glands.

• Usually, glands are larger than lymph nodes.

• Lymph nodes connect with lymphatic vessels, unlike the glands.


You may also be interested in reading:

1. Difference Between Gland and Organ

2. Difference Between Lymph and Blood