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Annu Rev Pathol. 2008;3:367-97.

Molecular biology and pathology of lymphangiogenesis.

Author information

  • 1Molecular/Cancer Biology Laboratory and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Biomedicum Helsinki and Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland. t.karpanen@niob.knaw.nl


The lymphatic vasculature is essential for the maintenance of tissue fluid balance, immune surveillance, and adsorption fatty acids in the gut. The lymphatic vessels are also crucially involved in the pathogenesis of diseases such as tumor metastasis, lymphedema, and various inflammatory conditions. Attempts to control or treat these diseases have drawn a lot of interest to lymphatic vascular research during the past few years. Recently, several markers specific for lymphatic endothelium and models for lymphatic vascular research have been characterized, enabling great technical progress in lymphatic vascular biology, and many critical regulators of lymphatic vessel growth have been identified. Despite these significant achievements, our understanding of the lymphatic vessel development and pathogenesis is still rather limited. Several key questions remain to be resolved, including the relative contributions of different pathways targeting lymphatic vasculature, the molecular and cellular processes of lymphatic maturation, and the detailed mechanisms of tumor metastasis via the lymphatic system.

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